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Advanced brain activity in
artists and musicians
• Many people who are not creative believe that trained artists and musicians
think differently from them and they are right. Psychologists have discovered
that professionally trained musicians use both the left and the right sides of
their brain more than the average person.
• These people are
talented in creative
areas like art and
• These people are
strong in academic
areas such as reading,
maths and logic.
Non-musicians are often impressed at how pianists, for example, can read two lines of
music, and play the top line with the right hand and the bottom line with the left.
Violin players, too, can simultaneously perform one action with the hand holding the
bow and another, different action with the hand on the strings. Long hours of practice
give musicians excellent coordination and skills that non-musicians don’t have.
• Reading the music and translating the notes into hand movements uses the
left hemisphere, but performing music is associated with right hemisphere
• The same is true of visual artist, who translate ideas and emotions into images
by a process that uses both sides of the brain.
Researches wanted to see how creative people solved problems by thinking ‘outside
the box’. To compare the thinking processes of musicians and non-musical people, a
group of students were shown some everyday objects and asked to invent new uses for
them. They were then given a word test the musicians showed more advanced
language skills in word test, and they also had more original ideas for alternative uses
for the objects.
What the research does not prove is whether musical skill is something that you are
born with, or whether it can be learnt. A child who starts to play a musical instrument
at a very early age and continues playing for many years may be changing his or her
brain activity by doing so. This suggests that the differences in a creative brain are
caused as much by training as by genetics.