The creative use of language tells us more about how the brain works when musicians are monitored in an MRI.
Researchers asked 12 experienced freestyle rap artists to do two different tasks. First, they wrote lyrics that had both rhythm and rhyme, using only a beat for inspiration.
The study, published online in Scientific Reports on November 15 and summarized on Science Daily, says that after that they performed a set of lyrics they had already rehearsed. Both tasks took place in the MRI.
The difference in brain activity for freestyle rapping centered around the medial prefrontal cortex, where motivation of thought and action takes place. The systems for language production and emotion were also involved.
At the same time, the regions that are supervisory showed decreased action, apparently standing aside to let creativity take place without an “editor.”
The researchers believe that additional studies might show how storytelling and poetry demonstrate the creative processes in the brain. What would the brain scans, for instance, have looked like if an innovative piece like e.e. cummings’ “love is a place” had been written in an experiment?
Would poets volunteer to write while in an MRI? Could they do it? Stay tuned.
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