What's so special about music? We experience it internally, yet at the same time it is highly social. Music engages our cognitive/affective and sensory systems. We use music to communicate with one another--and even with other species--the things that we cannot express through language. Music is both ancient and ever evolving. Without music, our world is missing something essential.
In Reflections on the Musical Mind, Jay Schulkin offers a social and behavioral neuroscientific explanation of why music matters. His aim is not to provide a grand, unifying theory. Instead, the book guides the reader through the relevant scientific evidence that links neuroscience, music, and meaning. Schulkin considers how music evolved in humans and birds, how music is experienced in relation to aesthetics and mathematics, the role of memory in musical expression, the role of music in child and social development, and the embodied experience of music through dance. He concludes with reflections on music and well-being. Reflections on the Musical Mind is a unique and valuable tour through the current research on the neuroscience of music.
Jay Schulkin is Research Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and member at the Center for the Brain Basis of Cognition, both at Georgetown University. He is the author of numerous books, including Roots of Social Sensibility and Neural Function, Bodily Sensibility: Intelligent Action, Cognitive Adaptation: A Pragmatist Perspective, and Adaptation and Well-Being: Social Allostasis.
"Complex though the subject is, Schulkin writes with the general reader in mind, balancing and contextualizing scientific particularities with cross-disciplinary discussions of musicology, wider aesthetics and philosophy in an accessible, highly readable style. At 178 pages, it is a compact book, but a wise and welcome one too, on every page a fresh line of enquiry and a reaching towards an understanding of the importance of the brain to our appreciation of music and of music to our sense of ourselves."--Michael Quinn, Classical Music
"For neuroscientist Jay Schulkin, music provides an enjoyable but at times testing workout for the brain, much as sport does for the body. Indeed, for him, listening to music is a microcosm of living one's life. In Reflections on the Musical Mind, he reminds us that we live in a world of uncertainty, always needing to predict the future with imprecise, or absent, information. So evolution has honed us to make judgments based on aesthetics, and to find slight deviations from the familiar--especially in music--both interesting and attractive."--New Scientist
"The many aspects of music--its social, emotional, cognitive, somatic, and evaluative components--all have their analogs in activities of the human brain. So it makes sense for a neuroscientist, especially one well versed in music, to explain these connections. By taking an evolutionary perspective and asking the difficult why questions--Why do we have music? Why might it be beneficial for society? Why is music linked with dancing? Why do we respond emotionally to music?--Schulkin engages his reader in issues that have been debated for centuries but that now can be examined afresh."--from the foreword by Robert O. Gjerdingen
Table of Contents:
Chapter 1 Music and the Brain
An Evolutionary Context 18
Chapter 2 Bird Brains, Social Contact, and Song 37
Chapter 3 Human Song
Dopamine, Syntax, and Morphology 62
Chapter 4 Musical Expectations, Probability, and Aesthetics 87
Chapter 5 Musical Expression, Memory, and the Brain 119
Chapter 6 Development, Music, and Social Contact 140
Chapter 7 Music and Dance 156
Conclusion Music and Well-Being 172