Posted in biology, communication and networking, music

Music sharpens emotional IQ

From Scientific American:

Imagine a quiet night like any other. Suddenly, your infant’s cries break the silence. Fully loaded with emotion, the sound triggers an urge to stand up and run to your infant’s room. But, considering that your spouse is a musician and you are not, who will be the first to reach the crib?

According to Dana L. Strait and a team of researchers at Northwestern University in Illinois, the musician should win the race. Their latest study showed that years of musical training leave the brains of musicians better attuned to the emotional content, like anger, of vocal sounds. Ten years of cello, say, can make a person more emotionally intelligent, in some sense. So the alarm carried in a baby’s cry make a deeper impression; your spouse wins the race. 

The new work is part of an emerging portrait of the broader connections between music, emotion and speech. These studies are finding that musicians are more accurate in detecting emotion — such as joy, sadness and anger — in speech samples. The effect has been found even in children as young as 7 years old, with as little as one year of music training. It is a fascinating example of how experience in one domain (music) benefits another (emotion perception). However, it is not until very recently, with the publication of the new study by Strait and her colleagues, that the biological foundation of the effect has been demonstrated.

Read full article at Scientific American



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

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