Friday, April 2, 2010

This is Your Brain on Music

Since I am studying how mind maps can help us learn, I decided it would be informative for me to use them to learn something new. Whatever content I choose should be unfamiliar to me, or I would simply be organizing learned information (what I usually do with mind maps). The content should also be interesting so that it stays compelling to me. I decided to tackle a small (but ever-growing) pile of books I have been meaning to read about how the brain listens to and understands music.

The first of these, Daniel J. Levitin's This is Your Brain on Music (2006), explains in detail the parts of the brain involved in listening to and performing music and how each contributes to the musical experience. The brain functions are new to me, but the music fundamentals are mot. Even so, the parts of the book that describe how music is put together are extremely interesting, elegant, and easy to understand for the layperson.

The meat of the book details the cognitive neuroscience going on in our brains when we encounter music by listening, performing, or even simply imagining it. The descriptions of the brain parts and what they do are easy to understand, making this book a good introduction to the field. In order to get my own brain to understand and retain the information, I took traditional, linear notes, but I also made a mind map for each part involved in music cognition. The linear notes are more wordy with quotes and explanations. The mind maps are color-coded and show where the brain part is located in the brain. Here is the Cerebellum map:
The colors I used in these maps correspond to a larger, more complex mind map which summarizes the various processes involved in listening to or performing music, and which brain parts are involved:
(Also, I couldn't resist retrospectively color-coding my linear notes to match these mind maps. My brain responds to and remembers colors.)

Both kinds of notes are helpful to me. The linear notes are good for review. I can repeatedly read over the sections I want to master and the words eventually stick. The mind maps help the visual part of my brain remember the spatial stuff, and they serve as a brief review of concepts. Once the details are mastered from reading and linear note review, the mind maps will prompt the concepts and their relationships and provide the framework for future writing and speaking. Simply from taking the notes, creating the mind maps (and assigning colors), this process has already started to occur.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there! I found your post while researching the impact of music on exercise performance for an anatomy & physiology homework assignment. Thanks for the mindmap and reading reference!