Hearing Music Makes Musicians Better at Reading It...

Music can have a variety of effects on us, from improving mood to aiding memory. Now it turns out that it can also improve your vision -- albeit in a very specific way.

Researchers at Vanderbilt University have found that as well as hearing music in tune, musicians can also read music in tune if relevant melodies are playing at the same time. The conclusions were drawn from a series of experiments that sought to find out more about how vision is informed by other information processed by the brain at the same time.

The scientists already knew that vision can influence what we hear -- for example, they point to an illusion whereby a single flash of light accompanied by two beeps is perceived as two flashes of light.

In the current study the team showed each participant incompatible images -- one eye was shown moving contours, while a scrolling musical score was presented to the other. The participants were asked to press one button when they saw the contours, and another button when the musical score was dominant. Without music playing, people's perception switched between the two for roughly equal lengths of time.

For the second part of the experiment, participants were played a simple melody through headphones as they were shown the images. When music was played, the participants tended to spend more time watching the scrolling score than the contours. People who couldn't read music didn't report any difference when the music they were played matched the score they were shown, but musicians tended to watch the visual score for longer when the melody they heard matched the one they read. Don't miss Kobalt changed the rules of the music industry using data -- and saved it Kobalt changed the rules of the music industry using data -- and saved it.

"What this tells us is that the kind of information the brain uses to interpret what we see around us includes abstract symbolic input such as music notation," said professor Randolph Blake, who directed the study. "However, this kind of input is only effective while an individual is aware of it."

With the advent of VR headsets in full swing, it would be interesting to know if these effects can be harnessed to improve immersive gaming. Harmonix has created these trippy music visualisations for Playstation's Morpheus headset; would these visualisations, based on the music itself, have a similar effect on people who can't read music?


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