Scientists find Guitarists' Brains are Wired Differently
The debate about whether we are born with talent or develop it is a contentious issue that has rumbled on for years, both sides of the argument have looked to science for answers and a new report tells us the answer may lie in our brain chemistry.
As reported in Policy Mic, the recent studies on the issue have produced some interesting results. People often talk about "onstage chemistry" between musicians and science now suggests this could be a real thing. The study has found that the brains of guitar players actually function differently to everyone else.
A 2012 study in Berlin shows us that musicians playing together can actually synchronise their brains. Scientists scanned the brains of 12 pairs of guitar players performing the same piece of music, astonishingly it was revealed that the guitarists' neural networks would synchronise for the performance and incredibly slightly before they started playing. They were in a way reading each others' minds.
Neural research also indicates that this ability to synchronise may stem from a guitarists overarching intuition. In another study looking at the neuroscience of improvisation, scientists found that guitarists can momentarily deactivate regions of their brain when improvising or playing complicated pieces. This means they shift to a state of unconscious thought, which means they really are "in the zone".
The right temporoparietal junction is the region of the brain that typically deactivates in situations of “goal-directed behaviour”. This acts to inhibit distraction by irrelevant stimuli (hecklers or bottle throwers etc) that might impair the performance. When a non-musician attempts to perform this is not the case, they are acutely aware of these detractions, this indicates a brain scan could in fact tell the guitar Gods from the hobbyists.
Although, it doesn't conclusively prove this neural behaviour is inherent. The brain revises and remodels itself throughout our lives, so we can develop skills we weren't born with.
The renowned neuroscientist Gary Marcus tackled this issue in his 2012 book Guitar Zero, throughout the book he tried to discover whether musical skill and talent can be acquired later in life. He himself tried to learn guitar for the first time age 40 and looked at a number of musicians who arrived at their talent later in life.
As we all know, and feel, guitar playing isn't just about the chemicals in our brains. Its about the way it makes us feel.