" Localization of music related listening versus silence. Significant differences of fMRI BOLD activity during listening to 16 familiar songs are compared to a set of quiet resting conditions (p < 0.001, cluster >10 voxels). Results are projected onto the surface of the participant’s own structural MRI scan for visualization." image credit: Daniel J. Levitin & Scott T. Grafton (altered by me)
One of my favorite writers on music and the brain, Daniel J. Levitin, also counts Sting among his fans. When Sting's recent tour took him to Montreal, home of McGill University where Dr. Levintin works, he reached out to Levintin and they got together for some fun along with Scott T. Grafton of the University of Santa Barbara who co-authored this research paper;
"We used state of the art multivoxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and representational dissimilarity analysis (RDA) in a fixed set of brain regions to test three exploratory hypotheses with the musician Sting: (1) Composing would recruit neutral structures that are both unique and distinguishable from other creative acts, such as composing prose or visual art; (2) listening and imagining music would recruit similar neural regions, indicating that musical memory shares anatomical substrates with music listening; (3) the MVPA and RDA results would help us to map the representational space for music, revealing which musical pieces and genres are perceived to be similar in the musician’s mental models for music."