Why you should be scared of the musical instrument: A scientific study
“It was a really bad experience,” says Mark Sall, a doctoral candidate in cognitive psychology at Columbia University.
Sall is a co-author of a paper that describes the results of a six-month experiment that used a computer program to record the brain activity of participants while they listened to music in real time.
“I was like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t get any of this,'” Sall says.
The music that Sall listened to included classical music, popular rock, and more.
But the researchers found that the more they listened, the less they heard.
The researchers used a machine learning algorithm to match the brain’s activity patterns to musical instruments in a playlist.
“The music was so bad that the machine could pick it out,” Sall explains.
“But when you played it in real-time, it wasn’t just the bad sound, it was the other parts of the music that were just so bad, that the algorithm couldn’t tell you which parts of it was bad.
So it was not very useful for making predictions.”
The researchers say that the program also could have been used to test whether people were able to hear different kinds of music, which is a useful method for detecting brain activity when it is not a sound but when it has been altered.
“We can use this to figure out whether the music is good, or not,” Sill says.
“It’s a great way to see if there’s something we’re missing.”
But the program only worked for the music they listened.
“This is a very interesting example, because the brain is very good at recognizing sounds,” says Stephen McInnes, a researcher in neurobiology at the University of British Columbia.
He is the lead author of a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in May 2017 that examined the effects of music on auditory cortex in mice.
“People often think that the brain has a way of telling the difference between music and other sounds, but we don’t really understand how that works,” McInnis says.
A different way of finding out what is wrong with a music piece may be useful, McInns adds.
“If there is a problem with a piece of music that doesn’t seem to be working, we can see if it’s an artifact of the human brain, or whether it might be something that could be detected in the brain by looking at the brain.”
“If the human voice is telling you to stop listening, or to change the volume, you can make a decision based on that,” Sulli says.
If we could find a way to make it easier for us to listen to music, he says, we might be able to make better choices.
“A lot of people would say that if you can’t hear the words, then you shouldn’t be listening to music,” Sully says.
For his part, Sall believes the best way to tell the difference is to listen in a quieter environment.
“That would be the best option,” he says.
But not everyone is convinced that it’s a good idea to listen for music that isn’t working.
“You can’t listen to it and know that it doesn’t work,” Mcinnes says.
And, as a result, many people won’t listen.
“One of the problems with music in the human mind is that we don.
We can’t always know what is happening in the background,” Silla says.
So what can we do?
For Sall and McInne, the most promising way of improving our ability to hear music in this way is by making music less loud.
But Sall also thinks we can improve our ability in this area by learning to control the sound of our ears.
“There’s a lot of research that shows that listening to certain music can actually make you less aware of things happening around you,” Sills says.
In other words, when the music sounds louder than it actually is, we are less able to recognize it as a sound.
That could be helpful, he adds, if we can learn to make music louder.