Mar 02, 2007, 09:37 AM
First off, I'm a musician (percussion) who teaches private lessons at a public school. But I enjoy reading books on the sciences.
The other day in class I made the comment that the students can learn their music for their mallet instruments away from the actual instrument by visualization - looking at the music and mentally seeing themselves play the notes on the instrument and such. I've done this quite a bit myself in learning pieces when time and instrument availability were limited. I then made a refrence to something I remember reading where scientists were maping an animal's brain (monkey I believe). When the animal observed one of the scientists drinking from a cup, the same parts of the brain "lit-up" as when the animal actually took a drink.
Well, one of my students came up afterwards to inquire about this and wanted to do some reading herself about this. I have quite a few books and I am unable to remember exactly which text this idea was taken from.
Does anyone know where I could tell her to look for anything similar to this on the internet or a specific book? Not specifically as it relates to music performance, just general studies that pertain specifically to this.
Mar 02, 2007, 10:34 AM
Yeah I know all about this. The reason why you can learn via visualization is because the brains memory doesnt distinguish between reality and visualization. So to your brain, if you dream about being on a shipwreak, it will be as if you were actually on one.
If you practice playing in your head, your muscle memory learns and is able to play better. Again the reason is because the brain doesnt know the diffrence between whats visualized and whats actually their. When you visualize, you send the same signals to your neurons as when your actually playing. Thats the reason why the brain doesnt know the diffrence, because the signals are the same.
So you can learn just as fast in your head as actually playing. Well... you can actually learn ALOT faster if you do Time Distortion through hypnosis. A famous Violinist uses this method to practice everyday. (Sorry, I forgot her name)
Just so you know, Time distortion is when a person slows down their perception of time which allows them to process information faster. Five minutes in real time can be like an hour of practice in time distortion. Milton Erickson first discovered this phenomenon with Cooper. I myself have done it a few times.
For books on the subject, I dono, prehaps something on the learning mechanisms of neural networks and muscle memory? Its pretty straightforward actually, there is not much to read about. The rest is simply understanding that the signals get sent, go through the network and have the same result as if it actually happened. I mean the only other thing you could learn is neuroscience, but I dont know if that really applies to your situation. Most of the stuff your asking for can get really advanced like neuropsychology which is the relationship between neuroscience and psychology.
Mar 02, 2007, 01:10 PM
CGilmore, you're talking about mirror neurons (with respect to monkey's brain lighting up sentence)... Anyways, that's a bit different than what you are actually getting at with visualization and imagery. Visualization activates many brain areas, and maximus is correct, the signals are identical when imagining versus actually doing. I'm not actually sure what you mean by "muscle memory" ? Anyways, the reason imagery is so effective is because these synaptic connections (termed Hebbian synapses) in the brain become stronger when they are activated more. So, the same signal comes in and they are activated just as if you were actually DOING the activity. Your brain actually modifies itself (brain's plastic) with respect to ever changing stimuli. So, if you were learning the violin and imagined playing that instrument, a section of your brain (the somatosensory cortex) actually re-organizes itself and more neural tissue is actually dedicated to your fingers, therefore they are more flexible, versatile, etc...
Also, when you are using imagery often for one activity, this builds in to procedural memory (often located in basal ganglia, red nucleus, or cerebellum of the brain). So, when you are first learning to play drums, this is not procedural yet. You have to consciously think about playing a peice of music. But, after awhile of playing that particular song or imagine playing that song, it then transforms into procedural memory and you can play that song almost unconsciously without even thinking about it. Have you ever had a moment where you know the song so well and then when you try to consciously play it it's harder, but you can play it perfectly with almost no conscious awareness of beating the drums of in particular rhythm? This is because the activity associated with moving or beating on drums in a certain rhythm has become apart of procedural memory!
A bit scatter brained, but if you'd like to know more or clarifications of what I've said you can message me.
I know quite a bit about imagery representation in the brain and brain plasticity.
Mar 02, 2007, 01:16 PM
You can tell your student to search on Google or Wikipedia for the term "procedural memory" and/or 'the use of imagination in brain plasticity'
You can play with those terms in any which way you'd like.
Another really good search term is "somatosensory cortex plasticity"
That will lead her to how the brain is plastic and changes in response to activities that are well known
The main terms are:
imagery, brain plasticity (brain changes), procedural memory, somatosensory cortex plasticity.
Mar 02, 2007, 04:20 PM
Greatness! Thanks tons! In looking around the net using some phrases both of you used (the glory of search engines) I was able to find a ton of info. Good stuff for my student, but even better stuff for me to read more about.
If anyone cares, here's a link I found that relates directly to music:
Man! Excellent! I love this stuff!
Mar 02, 2007, 04:21 PM
Sorry. I had to change the url like that because I'm such a newbie I'm not allowed to post a web address. But I'm sure you can figure it out if so desired.
Mar 03, 2007, 02:42 PM
Check the motor cortex humunulus, too. More neural tissue on the motor cortex homunculus is devoted to motor responses (controlling your fingers for pianists) rather than the somatosensory cortex (which also changes in response to changing stimuli). Just thought I should correct myself.
Jun 26, 2007, 08:37 AM
I just read a recent article about this as well...hmmm.. I'll look it up & post when I get back to my apartment.
Jul 23, 2010, 11:32 AM
I just watched an interesting video from Ramachandran about this.http://www.ted.com/talks/vs_ramachandran_t...vilization.html
Supposedly the mirror neurons actually completely replicates the entire experience of the other person you're observing. The only reason you don't completely experience it exactly like the other person is that there's feedback from your own limbs telling you that it's not you.
We know this from amputees. When they watch someone, they experience the same thing in their phantom limb.
Aug 14, 2010, 09:00 PM
I'm impressed. The mirror neurons replacing viewed events in the context of self, brain plasticity dedicating resources according to repetition, the formation of procedural memory overtaking conscious action... you guys touched on all my primary points. The only addition I had was that, indeed, the mind's eye can be quite as realistic as the world, and moreover, the mind's eye is separate from it. Have you ever realized that when you visualize something in your mind, or when you think deeply about something, your external reality seems to almost disappear? Your resources for perception are limited, and you're replacing the external ones with your own.
Thus, you're choosing which ones to reinforce.
Aug 18, 2010, 04:59 AM
The dichotomy between thinking and doing is largely false. Thinking is an activity and constitutes an action. This topic has come up from time to time in my philosophy classes in regards to ethics. Thinking and contemplation is an ethical activity with moral consequences. Learning, for example, is an ethical action (perhaps one of the most ethical things we can do when the subject matter is worthwhile). Neuroscientific thinking and scientific thinking generally are activities with moral implications.
Aug 18, 2010, 10:47 AM
My philosophical approach may be similar. In my view, a person has a duty to become appropriately informed. Not knowing what to do to avoid future evils is culpable. Hence, a fully human person will try to find out what he doesn't know he doesn't know.
Nov 30, 2010, 10:23 PM
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