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Research Finds Musicians' Brains Wired for Sound

Researchers at Northwestern University have found that musical training helps people quickly understand the emotional content of sounds.

Listen closely … and try to pick out what emotion this sound carries.

Ambi: Whaa!
 
That was a baby crying … about 250 milliseconds worth. Here it is again:

Ambi: Whaa!

If you have musical training, that might be all you need to hear the distress in that split-second cry. That's according to a new study from Northwestern's Auditory Neuroscience Lab. Researchers attached electrodes to people's heads – both musicians and non-musicians – and measured how sounds registered in their brainstems. Here's lead author Dana Strait.

STRAIT: Their auditory brainstems were placing more emphasis on the parts of the sound most important for conveying meaning.

Strait says musicians seem adept at exactly the skills people with some cognitive disorders lack. So people with autism, for example, might benefit from musical training.

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