Senior author Professor Maria Chait, of the UCL Ear Institute, said in a statement: “Our results demonstrate that recognition of familiar music happens remarkably quickly.
“These findings point to very fast temporal circuitry and are consistent with the deep hold that highly familiar pieces of music have on our memory.”
Chait continued: “Beyond basic science, understanding how the brain recognizes familiar tunes is useful for various music-based therapeutic interventions.
“For instance, there is a growing interest in exploiting music to break through to dementia patients for whom memory of music appears well preserved despite an otherwise systemic failure of memory systems.
“Pinpointing the neural pathway and processes which support music identification may provide a clue to understanding the basis of this phenomena.”
The study is the latest to look at how the brain processes music. Earlier this year, a team of scientists investigated the absolute pitch phenomenon, where individuals can identity a musical note as easily as most of us can see color.
They concluded these people had more of a certain type of gray matter in their brains.
Associate Professor Keith Schneider, co-author of the study and director of the Center for Biomedical and Brain Imaging at the University of Delaware, told Newsweek at the time: “We found that people with absolute pitch have a larger primary auditory cortex and also have broader frequency tuning, so each part of the cortex responds to a wider range of frequencies.
“So when they hear a musical tone, a larger part of their auditory cortex is activated,” said Schneider.
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