New York University researchers have discovered that human brain waves sync to the music that we're listening to, as outlined in the press release. This synchronization helps us process the music is a similar way that our brains break down words, phrases and syllables to allow us to better understand what people are saying to us.
The study used magnetoencephalography to measure tiny magnetic fields in the brain and compared activity between two groups: musicians and non-musicians. The results found that musicians were much more adept at synchronizing to slower pieces of music and better at identifying distortions in pitch.
"We've isolated the rhythms in the brain that match rhythms in music," said Keith Doelling, lead author of the study. "Specifically, our findings show that the presence of these rhythms enhances our perception of music and of pitch changes."
Brain waves can be categorized into four unique types, each characteristic of different states of mind. Although there is always one dominant brain wave during specific activities, all of them are present at any given time to different degrees.
"For any rhythmic sound, the brain seems to align its own rhythms to that of the sound so that they are both 'on the same wavelength,'" said Doelling.
The findings exemplify how our brain waves work to mimic the sounds that we hear to increase our comprehension and allow us to analyze them better.
"We seem to use rhythm as a type of carrier signal to facilitate the transfer of information... that can be decoded in the brain further down the processing pathway," said Doelling.