Episode 132: What Happens When You Put an Opera Singer in a Brain Scanner

MichaelBiopsychology2 Comments

What part of your brain is lighting up when you’re singing? In this episode I take a look at a neat new study that involved having singers lie down in an MRI while their brains were scanned. Take a look at how your cerebellum, your parietal lobe, your somatosentory cortex and your amygdala are all involved in your ability to sing. I’ll also look at how mental rehearsal can positively affect how well you perform a task.

  • Kleber, B., Veit, R., Birbaumer, N., Gruzelier, J., & Lotze, M. (2009). The Brain of Opera Singers: Experience-Dependent Changes in Functional Activation. Cerebral Cortex, 20 (5), 1144-1152.
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  • Zarate, J.M. and Zatorre, R.J. (2008). Experience-dependent neural substrates involved in vocal pitch regulation during singing. NeuroImage, 40, 1871–1887.
  • Kleber, B. Birbaumer, N., Veit, R. Trevorrow, T. and Lotze, M. (2007). Overt and imagined singing of an Italian aria. NeuroImage, 36, 889-900.

  • Buonomano DV, Merzenich MM. 1998. Cortical plasticity: from synapses to maps. Annu Rev Neurosci. 21:149-186.
  • Elbert T, Pantev C, Wienbruch C, Rockstroh B, Taub E. 1995. Increased cortical representation of the fingers of the left hand in string players. Science. 270:305-307.
  • Gunji A, Ishii R, Chau W, Kakigi R, Pantev C. 2007. Rhythmic brain activities related to singing in humans. Neuroimage. 34:426-434.
  • Nielsen JB, Cohen LG. 2008. The Olympic brain. Does corticospinal plasticity play a role in acquisition of skills required for high- performance sports? J Physiol. 586:65–70.
  • Opera singing in the brain scanner

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2 Comments on “Episode 132: What Happens When You Put an Opera Singer in a Brain Scanner”

  1. Hi Toni: thanks for getting in touch. You’re right – as of today (Fri, Oct 15 2010) iTunes does not contain all of the 132 episodes. I figured out the problem and I believe it is fixed but it may take a day or so before iTunes updates and lists all the episodes. Thanks so much for your kind words and for letting me know!

  2. hi! im a graduate of educational psychology in De La Salle University Manila.

    I just discovered about the beauty of podcasts and saw your podcast. I wanted to download all your episodes but then there are only 10 episodes remaining in iTunes.

    Earlier I saw hundreds, but then now they’re gone. Would happy to have assistance please. I love your podcast. Thanks! More power!

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