With apologies to Gene Kelly for his unforgettable performance in the 1952 epic “Singing in the Rain,” we have the formidable Massachusetts Institute of Technology weighing in on the subject of singing in the brain.
For the first time, MIT neuroscientists have identified a population of neurons in the human brain that lights up when we hear singing, but not other types of music.
These neurons, found in the auditory cortex, appear to respond to the specific combination of voice and music, but not to either regular speech or instrumental music. Exactly what they are doing is unknown and will require more work to uncover, the researchers say.
“The work provides evidence for relatively fine-grained segregation of function within the auditory cortex, in a way that aligns with an intuitive distinction within music,” says Sam Norman-Haignere, a former MIT postdoc who is now an assistant professor of neuroscience at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
“Could singing stop snoring? Doctor says vocal exercises could be the key to a peaceful night’s sleep,” the Mail Online website reports after a study found that people who followed a daily exercise programme of singing saw improvements in their snoring.
The news is based on a trial comparing the effects of daily singing exercises with not singing in 127 people with a history of snoring or mild to moderate sleep apnoea. Sleep apnoea is a condition where a person’s breathing is interrupted in their sleep. This prevents them from falling into a deep sleep, leading to excessive daytime sleepiness.
The study found that those who did the singing exercises for three months reported less daytime sleepiness and less frequent snoring than those who didn’t.
But the study’s results are limited by the number of people who dropped out. Among the singing group, 40% of the people assigned to the…