Studies by Jamshed Bharucha, a professor in the Department of Psychology Tufts University: has been investigating what happens in the brain when people of different cultures hear various kinds of music. In preliminary findings yet to be published, he conducted fMRIs of American and Indian students while they listened to American and Indian classical and pop tunes. The results show completely different patterns in the brain scans, with a constellation of different brain regions operating for each of the two groups, even when listening to the same music. (Blanding, Michael. The Brain in the World – A Burgeoning Science Explores the Deep Imprint of Culture.)

Study of music processing/cross-cultural music comprehension using brain scans of American and German musicians while they listened to Western and Chinese music: found greater lateral frontal activity associated with listening to culturally familiar versus culturally unfamiliar music. In addition, one study reported greater activation of the precentral gyrus and supplementary motor area in response to Western music, suggesting that culturally-familiar music might be represented in both sensory and motor areas. However, culturally unfamiliar music led to enhanced activity in the right angular gyrus and the middle frontal gyrus, possibly because the processing of unfamiliar music requires higher attentional demands and higher loads on basic auditory processing. (Morrison, S. J., et al. fMRI investigation of cross-cultural music comprehension. Neuroimage 20, 378–384 (2003). Nan, Y., et al. "Cross-cultural music phrase processing: an fMRI study." Hum. Brain Mapp. 29, 312–328. 2008. Perspectives, nature reviews, Neuroscience p 653, Vol 9. August 2008.)

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