Scientific Understanding of Consciousness
Consciousness as an Emergent Property of Thalamocortical Activity

Challenge of Music and Cognition

[under construction]


I'll state again my hypothesis for how music reacts with the brain to cause us to enjoy music.

I believe that music interacts with the oscillation and synchronizations of the neural network signals in the brain to produce resonances in the neural signal loops. The oscillations, synchronizations and resonances cause the FAPs action patterns of movement to become active resulting in movements such as foot tapping and dance movements. The oscillations, synchronizations and resonances somehow excite the limbic system to release neurotransmitters such as dopamine, which then interact with the nucleus accumbens and frontal cortex circuits to produce a euphoria.

Link to Auditory Perception and Music


Neurons entrain to each other's rhythms via synchronized action potentials as they communicate with one another. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 140)

Music invokes some of the same neural regions that language does, but music taps into primitive brain structures involved with motivation, reward, and emotion. (Levitin; Your Brain on Music, 187)

The CA3 part of the hippocampus may operate as a single associative memory capable of linking together almost arbitrary co-occurrences of inputs, including inputs about emotional state that reach the entorhinal cortex from the amygdala. (Rolls; Emotion Explained, 195)

Music as a noncognitive form of communication. A person needs to know absolutely nothing about music to instantly respond to and benefit from it. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 30)

Music makes immediate sense, reaching directly into the emotional brain to convey or echo moves, sensations, and feelings. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 30)

Music is a human being's first language. Words are inadequate to describe the musical experience. It can only be experienced. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 30)

A most natural response of the human body to music is a synchronization of anatomical movements and other physiological/psychological functions with musical rhythms. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 120)

Auditory cues can capture one's attention. Such attentiveness results in brain waves becoming synchronized with the beat frequency. This synchronized brain activity seems to establish a "pleasing resonance" that catches the entire range of human emotions. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 121)

Resonance phenomenon following entrainment could be the brain's way of amplifying the volume of brain signals representing behaviorally relevant stimuli. Such amplification would boost the intensity of these particular stimuli above the level of surrounding 'noise'. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 121)

In scientific studies, music that elicits pleasant emotions causes the listener to display increased cerebral alpha-rhythm (8-12 Hz, at about 50 v on the EEG) that is associated with a relaxed state of physiological tranquility. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 132)

Music's effect on sensory integration refers to how the brain organizes and interprets (in accordance with the Gestalt laws) inputs arriving simultaneously from multiple sensory modalities, such as sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, heat, pain (nociceptive), etc. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 133)

Music is able to alter the information route through the brain, from amygdala-centered neural networks associated with emotional fear responses, to hippocampus-centered networks associated with more rational, cognitive responses. (Schneck & Berger; Music Effect, 133)

Most listeners can recognize a song in transposition, recognize all kinds of deformations of the original tune. (Levitin; Your Brain on Music, 133)

The rewarding and reinforcing aspects of listening to music seem to be mediated by increasing dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens and by the cerebellum's contribution to regulating emotion through its connections to the frontal lobe and the limbic system. (Levitin; Your Brain on Music, 187)


Research study Music of the Cerebral Hemispheres



Return to Scientific Understanding of Consciousness homepage