Friday, January 21, 2011

Jan. 20 - The Chill of Music

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The Chill Of Music

Research reveals the biochemical connection between music and emotion.

Jan 19, 2011
By Joel N. Shurkin, ISNS Contributor
Inside Science News Service
Brain Music
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The universal structures of music can produce dopamine-induced anticipation and release even if the music is unfamiliar.

Credit: ISNS | cjn

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(ISNS) -- You are in a concert hall, listening to music you love, Ludwig von Beethoven's Ninth Symphony. You are happily awaiting the glorious climax in the fourth movement -- you know it's coming -- when the full orchestra and chorus erupt with the "Ode to Joy." The moment is here and you are exhilarated, awash in a sudden wave of pleasure.

When music sounds this good, there's a reason: dopamine.

In research published in the journal Nature Neuroscience, scientists at McGill University in Montreal have established the direct link between the elation stimulated by music and the neurotransmitter dopamine. Dopamine is the same substance that puts the joy in sex, the thrill in certain illegal drugs, and the warm feeling within a woman breast-feeding her child.

The substance also may explain why the power of music crosses human cultures, the scientists said.

Valorie N. Salimpoor and other researchers in the lab of Robert J. Zatorre took eight subjects and asked them to bring in music they loved. They chose a broad range of instrumental music, from Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings (the most popular) to jazz and punk. The test used only familiar music, Zatorre said, because he wanted to make sure he was getting a "maximal response."

What the subjects had in common was that the music they brought in gave them the "chills," which is actually a technical term for a kind of emotional response. A positron emission tomography, or PET scan, measured dopamine release.

Dopamine is synthesized in the brain out of amino acids and transmits signals from one neuron to another through the circuits of the brain.

The structure in the brain Zatorre's team looked at is the striatum, deep inside the forebrain. The striatum has two subparts: the upper, or dorsal, and the ventral below.

Zatorre said the dorsal part of the striatum is connected to the regions of the brain involved in prediction and action, while the ventral is connected to the limbic system, the most primitive and ancient part of the brain, where emotions come from.   "When you are anticipating, you are engaging the prediction part of the brain; when you feel the chills, that's emotion," Zatorre said, whose team found that the dopamine triggered both parts.

According to the McGill research, during the anticipation phase dopamine pours into the dorsal striatum when the climax occurs, triggering a reaction in the ventral striatum that results in a release of pure emotion.

The idea that there was some biochemical reaction involved goes back to the work of the late Leonard B. Meyer in the 1950s. Meyer was a musicologist not a scientist, but he connected music theory with psychology and neuroscience, emotional response to music patterns. He did not know the biochemical mechanism.

Great composers don't know it either but play on this process. German composer Gustav Mahler is famous for creating tension that needs resolution, building intensity until the orchestra explodes in a wave of sound. The listener knows there is going to be an emotional resolution even if the piece is unfamiliar. And, if the listener knows it is coming, the reaction can be even more intense. It turns out, said Zatorre, that Mahler -- and conductors performing his music -- play with the emotions of the audience by manipulating dopamine.

"What we're finding is that this is the brain mechanism that underlies this phenomenon," Zatorre said.

Zatorre hypothesizes that something similar happens when you hear music for the first time, and preliminary results from recent testing show a similar result. The universal structures of music can produce dopamine-induced anticipation and release even if the music is unfamiliar.  

According to Sharon Levy, who teaches music theory and piano literature at the Juilliard School in New York and the Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, sometimes the emotional release comes from simply relieving harmonic tension -- the use of relatively dissonant chords begging to be resolved -- as Mahler does. On occasion the composer deliberately changes expectation in happy, surprising ways, a device Meyer wrote that Mozart had mastered. Either way, it's dopamine affecting the striatum.

Zatorre said he does not know what is happening in the brain of the composer who is writing the music.

"My guess is that composing is such a complex act that you may not get that emotional touch until later when you are actually experiencing it for the first time," Zatorre said.

The question is will knowing the role of dopamine change the way musicians approach their art?

"Not much," said Levy. "It just reminds me of something I knew all the time, that music can change moods."

Zatorre used orchestral music to avoid having emotions linked to words affect the results. He is planning another study using vocal music, perhaps to see whether Lady Gaga or Frank Sinatra can turn on the dopamine.

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How to Digitally Record/Video a UFO sighting:

Como registar digitalmente ou gravar um vídeo de um avistamento de um UFO:

Stabilize the camera on a tripod. If there is no tripod, then set it on top of a stable, flat surface. If that is not possible lean against a wall to stabilize your body and prevent the camera from filming in a shaky, unsteady manner.

Estabilize a camera com um tripé. Se não tiver um tripé, então coloque-a em cima de uma superfície estável. Se não for possível, então encoste-se a uma parede para estabilizar o corpo e evitar que a camera registe de maneira tremida e instável.

Provide visual reference points for comparison. This includes the horizon, treetops, lampposts, houses, and geographical landmarks (i.e., Horsetooth Reservoir, Mt. Adams, etc.) Provide this in the video whenever is appropriate and doesn’t detract from what your focus is, the UFO.

Forneça pontos visuais de referência para comparação. Isso inclui o horizonte, cimo das árvores, postes de iluminação, pontos de referência geográficos (como o Reservatório de Horsetooth, Mone Adams, etc) Forneça esses pontos no vídeo sempre que for apropriado e não se distraia do que é o seu foco, o UFO/a Nave.

Narrate your videotape. Provide details of the date, time, location, and direction (N,S,E,W) you are looking in. Provide your observations on the weather, including approximate temperature, windspeed, any visible cloud cover or noticeable weather anomalies or events. Narrate on the shape, size, color, movements, approximate altitude of the UFO, etc and what it appears to be doing. Also include any unusual physical, psychological or emotional sensations you might have. Narrate any visual reference points on camera so they correlate with what the viewer will see, and thereby will be better able to understand.

Faça a narração do vídeo. Forneça pormenores sobre a data, hora, local e direcção (Norte, Sul, Este, Oeste) que está a observar. Faça observações sobre as condições atmosféricas, incluindo a temperatura aproximada, velocidade do vento, quantidade de nuvens, anomalias ou acontecimentos meteorológicos evidentes. Descreva a forma, o tamanho, a cor, os movimentos, a altitude aproximada onde se encontra o UFO/nave, etc e o que aparenta estar a fazer. Inclua também quaisquer aspectos pouco habituais de sensações físicas, psicológicas ou emocionais que possa ter. Faça a narração de todos os pontos de referência visual que o espectador irá ver e que, deste modo, será capaz de compreender melhor.

Be persistent and consistent. Return to the scene to videotape and record at this same location. If you have been successful once, the UFO sightings may be occurring in this region regularly, perhaps for specific reasons unknown, and you may be successful again. You may also wish to return to the same location at a different time of day (daylight hours) for better orientation and reference. Film just a minute or two under “normal” circumstances for comparison. Write down what you remember immediately after. As soon as you are done recording the experience/event, immediately write down your impressions, memories, thoughts, emotions, etc. so it is on the record in writing. If there were other witnesses, have them independently record their own impressions, thoughts, etc. Include in this exercise any drawings, sketches, or diagrams. Make sure you date and sign your documentation.

Seja persistente e não contraditório. Volte ao local da cena e registe o mesmo local. Se foi bem sucedido uma vez, pode ser que nessa região ocorram avistamentos de UFOs/naves com regularidade, talvez por razões específicas desconhecidas, e talvez possa ser novamente bem sucedido. Pode também desejar voltar ao mesmo lugar a horas diferentes do dia (durante as horas de luz)para ter uma orientação e referência melhor. Filme apenas um ,inuto ou dois em circunstâncias “normais” para ter um termo de comparação. Escreva tudo o que viu imediatamente após o acontecimento. Logo após ter feito o registo da experiência/acontecimento, escreva imediatamente as impressões, memórias, pensamentos, emoções, etc para que fiquem registadas por escrito. Se houver outras testemunhas, peça-lhes para registar independentemente as suas próprias impressões, pensamentos, etc. Inclua quaisquer desenhos, esbolos, diagramas. Certifique-se que data e assina o seu documento/testemunho.

Always be prepared. Have a digital camera or better yet a video camera with you, charged and ready to go, at all times. Make sure you know how to use your camera (and your cell phone video/photo camera) quickly and properly. These events can occur suddenly, unexpectedly, and often quite randomly, so you will need to be prepared.

Esteja sempre preparado, Tenha sempre uma camera digital, melhor ainda, uma camera vídeo consigo, carregada e pronta a usar sempre que necessário. Certifique-se que sabe como lidar com a sua camera (ou com o seu celular/camera fotográfica) rápida e adequadamente. Esses acontecimentos podem acontecer súbita e inesperadamente e, por vezes, acidentalmente, por isso, necessita estar preparado.

Look up. Be prepared. Report. Share.

Olhe para cima, Esteja preparado, Relate, Partilhe.



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