“Scientists at Wesleyan University have used electroencephalography to uncover differences in how the brains of Classical and Jazz musicians react to an unexpected chord progression,” writes Eric Dolan last Wednesday (10/18) at the psychology and neuroscience website PsyPost. “Their new study, published in the journal Brain and Cognition, sheds new light on the nature of the creative process. ‘I have been a classical musician for many years, and have always been inspired by the great jazz masters who can improvise beautiful performances on the spot,’ explained study author Psyche Loui.… The researchers used EEG to compare the electrical brain activity of 12 Jazz musicians (with improvisation training), 12 Classical musicians (without improvisation training), and 12 non-musicians while they listened to a series of chord progressions. Some of the chords followed a progression that was typical of Western music, while others had an unexpected progression. Loui and her colleagues found that Jazz musicians had a significantly different electrophysiological response to the unexpected progression … an increased perceptual sensitivity to unexpected stimuli.” Says Loui, “It would also be important to find out whether these differences emerge as a result of training, or whether they reflect pre-existing differences.”

Posted October 27, 2017