Recent Research: September/October 2017
The rhythm of grammar
Neuroscientists at Vanderbilt University Medical Center's Music Cognition Lab have identified a correlation between good rhythm skills and a strong grasp of grammar in school-aged children. According to the lab's director Dr. Reyna Gordon, rhythmic patterns and sentence structures are similar in that they both unfold over time. Depending on the context of what was heard or read, the brain begins to form expectations about what will happen next. Children who can detect rhythmic variations in music often find it easier to form complex sentences. Scientists believe that rhythmic training might help children with developmental language disorders.
Turn on those sad songs!
Recent research suggests that sad music can play an important role in coping with difficult emotions. Although music itself cannot be intrinsically happy or sad, it does possess qualities that many humans associate with these emotions. While people tend to listen to happy music while doing other activities, they often give sad music their undivided attention. Sadness encompasses a range of complex emotions, and listening to sorrowful music can help people experience and process a "safer" form of anger or cathartic grief.-1 Since people may find they are able to process difficult emotions they might otherwise repress, sad music may lead to improved mental health.2 Parents of teenagers, take note!
1H. Peltola & T. Eerola (2016). Fifty shades of blue: classification of music-evoked sadness. Musicae Scientiae 20(1), 84-102.
2A.J.M. Van den Tol et al. (2016). Sad music as a means for acceptance-based coping. Musicae Scientiae 20(1), 68-83.