Melodies in mind

RESEARCHERS AT Dartmouth are now deciphering how some melodies stick in your head. They have found and mapped the area in your brain that processes and tracks music.

The study by Petr Janata, at Dartmouth's Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, and his colleagues is reported in the journal Science. Their results indicate that knowledge about the harmonic relationships of music is maintained in a part of the brain which is centrally located, right behind your forehead.

"This region where we mapped musical activity," says Janata, "is important for assimilating information that is important to one's self, or mediating interactions between emotional and non-emotional information. Our results explains the link between music, emotion and brain."

Using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) experiments, the researchers tracked pictures of brain activity while listening to music. They concluded that the area in front of the brain reliably tracked the music fluctuations in all the subjects and so it maintains a music map.