Posted on Thursday, Oct. 2, 2008 — 4:14 PM
Supporting what many of us who are not musically talented have often felt, new research reveals that trained musicians really do think differently than the rest of us. Vanderbilt University psychologists have found that professionally trained musicians more effectively use a creative technique called divergent thinking, and also use both the left and the right sides of their frontal cortex more heavily than the average person.
The research by Crystal Gibson, Bradley Folley and Sohee Park is currently in press at the journal Brain and Cognition.
“We were interested in how individuals who are naturally creative look at problems that are best solved by thinking ‘out of the box’,” Folley said. “We studied musicians because creative thinking is part of their daily experience, and we found that there were qualitative differences in the types of answers they gave to problems and in their associated brain activity.”
One possible explanation the researchers offer for the musicians’ elevated use of both brain hemispheres is that many musicians must be able to use both hands independently to play their instruments.
The researchers also found that, overall, the musicians had higher IQ scores than the non-musicians, supporting recent studies that intensive musical training is associated with an elevated IQ score.