Music on the Brain

Experts still don't know how and why tunes tickle our fancy--but new research offers intriguing clues

It's hard to exaggerate the effect music can have on the human brain. A mere snippet of song from the past can trigger memories as vivid as anything Proust experienced from the aroma of his petite madeleine. A tune can induce emotions ranging from unabashed joy to deep sorrow and can drive listeners into states of patriotic fervor or religious frenzy--to say nothing of its legendary ability to soothe the savage breast.

Yet in spite of music's remarkable influence on the human psyche, scientists have spent little time attempting to understand why it possesses such potency. "We tend to think...

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