My Brain Can Hear Music

Before I start the actual blog, this note. I’m not pushing anyone to read the books mentioned, selling anything, endorsing anything.  I just want to relate my experiences.  Ok, now the actual blog:

 

Have you heard of neuroplasticity?  I hadn’t until my book group chose “The Brain that Changes Itself” by Dr. Norman Doidge.  My first thought about reading it was “ugh – great, a science book.”  However, my narrowminded preconception broke wide open when I actually started to read it.  This led me to another book called “This is Your Brain on Music” by David Levitin, PhD.  I’m not going to make this post about science. I know you can Google it if you want to learn more.  But it has definitely affected me and these books and other articles I’ve read since have explained what’s happening to me.

 

It’s no secret that one of the things I really miss is music. When I was a kid, I begged (and received) piano lessons.  When I was 14, I went to Sam Goody and bought a “pretty” guitar for $20 and I learned how to play “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore” in one day.   If I was listening to the radio I got annoyed when they broke into the music with news, commercials, or anything else but the top 25.  At night I fell asleep to my record player usually playing soft jazz.  To this day, I remember the words to many rock and roll songs of the 60s even though I can’t remember what I did two days ago.  I think you get the point.  I love music and miss it very much.

 

I also might have told you that when you can’t hear, it’s easy to forget how to say words. You go a long time without hearing them and then suddenly you realize you don’t remember how to say it. I’ve practiced my speech by singing along to the old rock and roll I remember from the time I could hear.  I usually do it when I’m alone so as not to torture anyone else, but it works.  I’ve kept my speech ability.

Ok, now to bring this together and tell you what’s happening.

 

When I play my old music, I hear it in my head almost as clearly as if I were listening with my ears and sometimes, my head even hears songs that aren’t playing.  I once got through a 35 minute MRI by letting my head play a mixed playlist.  No one understood how I could hear music so clearly in my head and frankly, I didn’t understand it myself.  And then I read something about a test that was done  – I wish I had a better memory so I could tell you the article and describe it exactly, but I think giving you the jist of it will work.

 

Researchers hooked up some people to MRIs (or something like that) and played music.  They recorded what parts of the brain “lit up” and how intensely they lit up.   Then they turned the music off and asked the people to remember the songs – play them again in their heads.  To their shock, the same parts of the brain lit up again with almost the same amount of intensity.  Though the intensity was a little less, it showed that to the brain there was not much difference in actually hearing the song or remembering it.  And that, I believe,  is how my brain plays music.  And as an aside, Darling Hubby insists that since I lost my hearing, I have perfect pitch.  Apparently without hearing the outside world to throw me off, I can sing better.  It doesn’t help my voice, but you can’t have everything. 🙂

 

So I started thinking about how I can interpret Darling Hubby’s sounds as words on the phone (previous post.)  Is that my brain rewiring itself too?  Is my brain compensating for my ears?  Granted it’s taken and is still taking a long time, but who knows what the brain can do?  I had a hearing test two weeks ago and both Wonderful Audiologist and I had a laugh because I hear beeps she didn’t provide.  And though I don’t hear the machine’s beeps, I felt vibrations for some of them.  A little tickle really, but I felt something rather than heard it.  Now this may not be exciting by itself, but my brain found a way to know a few of the beeps were there. Where it will go, I have no idea. But it excites me that this relatively new field of science might help others.

Read the links below if you want some more information.  And in the meantime, I’ll practice my drums.  I can’t hear them but boy can I feel that tickle!

 

http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1580438,00.html

http://www.sharpbrains.com/blog/2011/01/25/interesting-recent-studies-and-articles-on-neuroplasticity-cognitive-reserve-and-brain-fitness/

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