Musical Genius: One Doc’s Study of How Improv Impacts the Brain

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A Baltimore doc is fusing music with science to see how your brain changes when dropping rhymes.

Dr. Charles Limb has completed similar research with jazz musicians in past years, but now he’s looking to study a very different genre: hip-hop. Some rappers appear to craft rhymes effortlessly, and Limb wants to find out what’s happening in their brains when the beats are flowing.

(More on See an infographic about the roots of rap.)

He’s borrowed talent from the Baltimore freestyle rap scene, putting them in an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scanner and having them create an off-the-cuff rap.

Dr. Limb hasn’t yet released any findings, but his jazz improv results from 2008 provide some clues to what he might discover. The need for spontaneous creativity resulted in artists lowering their inhibitions, and the same brain centers that are active when telling a personal story were lit up when freestyling jazz.

Your research, Dr. Limb, is music to our ears. NewsFeed hopes he’ll present his findings in freestyle form. Cue the beat.

See more about this study from our friends at Healthland.