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← Why there's no life without music | Laura Ferreri | TEDxMilano

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Showing Revision 7 created 11/26/2019 by Muriel de Meo.

  1. What would happen,
  2. if you woke up tomorrow morning
    in a world without music?
  3. You would’ve lost something beautiful,
  4. something that you like.
  5. But would it be simply a case of
    giving up something that you like,
  6. like eating pizza on Saturday evening?
  7. Or would you encounter
    a much more profound change?
  8. Music is everywhere,
  9. it’s found in all cultures,
  10. in every corner of the world,
  11. because it’s what allows us
    to connect with each other.
  12. It’s a relational glue,
  13. just think of what normally
    happens at concerts,
  14. and it’s the soundtrack
    to our lives and events.
  15. Music seems like something
    we’ve always had inside us.
  16. The strange object that you see behind me
  17. is an archaeological find,
    more precisely it’s a bone.
  18. It’s the bone of a cave bear
    dating back to about 55,000 years ago.
  19. What does it have to do with music?
  20. Some scholars have focused on this bone,
    precisely on these holes;
  21. and have tried to reconstruct it,
  22. formulating a hypothesis that,
    today is much more appealing.
  23. In fact, it could be the oldest
    musical instrument in history,
  24. subsequently nicknamed
    the "Neanderthal Flute".
  25. It often happens, what we stumbled upon
  26. in the first steps of human evolution
  27. can also be found in the first steps
    of our personal evolution,
  28. as single individuals,
    in the evolution of our lives.
  29. Neuroscience studies show us
    that we are natural born musical.
  30. Our brain as newborns,
  31. in the first hours of life,
  32. manage to specifically respond to music,
  33. musical structure, melody and rhythm,
  34. to music’s different
    emotional nuances.
  35. Indeed, the presence of music in our lives
  36. seems to deal precisely with our brain
  37. and, in particular, with changes
  38. that occur in the oldest circuits
    at the evolutionary level,
  39. the deepest ones,
    even anatomically speaking.
  40. A substance plays a key role here
  41. which is crucial for the regulation
    of our behaviour, every day.
  42. This substance is dopamine.
  43. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter
    that we usually release
  44. right in the oldest,
    deepest areas of our brain
  45. in response to stimuli
    such as food or sex.
  46. They are stimuli that attract us,
    give us pleasure,
  47. that motivate us, reward us
  48. and are also somehow related
    to our survival.
  49. However, what we have recently discovered
  50. is that dopamine is also released
  51. in response to music.
  52. So let's see how many of you,
    at least once in life,
  53. listening to a song, a piece of music,
  54. have experienced this feeling here.
  55. I’d say at least 90%.
  56. These are chills, goosebumps
  57. they’re our body’s physiological
    or psychophysiological responses
  58. that we can link to intense pleasure.
  59. Part of my research
  60. precisely focuses
    on this kind of phenomena,
  61. approaching them, however,
    in a rather particular way.
  62. In fact, with colleagues
    based in Barcelona and Montreal,
  63. we directly activated and deactivated
    the mechanisms in the brain
  64. that we thought could account
    for these phenomena,
  65. and in particular
    the release of dopamine.
  66. A pharmacological study allowed us
  67. to increase and decrease -
    temporarily, so don't worry -
  68. the release of dopamine
    in people's brains.
  69. We did this while our attendes
    were listening to music.
  70. It could be their favourite music
  71. or pop-rock music we had chosen,
  72. music that is normally heard on the radio.
  73. What we discovered
  74. is that when dopamine increased
    compared to when it decreased,
  75. their pleasure responses also increased.
  76. Namely, the participants told us
    they'd rather hear a certain song
  77. and they also had more
    associated physiological responses:
  78. shivers, goosebumps.
  79. Additionally, when the dopamine increased,
  80. what we call motivational answers
    did also increase.
  81. In this case, the participants
    were willing to pay more
  82. to obtain the song they were listening to.
  83. Namely, they were willing
    to give money to have that song,
  84. that music in their life.
  85. So the pleasure and motivation
    linked to the release of dopamine
  86. are key to the understaning
    of the role of music in our life,
  87. or at least why it’s in our life.
  88. However, the fundamental question remains:
  89. all of this cozy pleasure,
  90. so intense that it affects
    our lives positively,
  91. is an end in itself?
  92. Namely, what is the true
    role of music in our lives?
  93. To try to answer this,
  94. I suggest to keep exploring
    brain activations together,
  95. and I ask you, as much as you can,
  96. to try to imagine being here alone.
  97. Put on your headphones, your earphones,
  98. and start listening
    to one of your favourite songs.
  99. What will happen
  100. is that your brain starts to switch on,
  101. creating a veritable
    cascade of activations
  102. concerning areas that are activated
    and regulate our emotions, our behaviour,
  103. as well as the areas that are involved
  104. in perception, movement,
    language, and memory.
  105. Music creates a veritable
    neural symphony in our brain.
  106. It activates and modulates it entirely.
  107. In doing so, it’s able to modulate
    the anatomy and its functionality.
  108. So now we can take
    a fundamental step forward.
  109. Given that most
    of these neural substrates,
  110. most of these areas activated by music
  111. are actually areas
    that we activate every day
  112. to perform many other activities -
    hearing, reading, talking, walking -
  113. then we can start thinking
    about using music
  114. to stimulate these other regions
  115. and then these other daily functions.
  116. That's what have done today
    many psychology and neuroscience studies.
  117. For example, studies on music's ability
    to stimulate areas involved in movement,
  118. and how this can be used
    in cases of movement deficit,
  119. such as Parkinson's disease.
  120. Or studies focused
  121. on the close relationship
    between music and language:
  122. music is a veritable universal language,
  123. and we can use this relationship
  124. to improve, for example,
    dyslexic children’s reading skills.
  125. Much research has been done
  126. and, as often happens
    in scientific research,
  127. there is still much to do and support.
  128. Today I would like to talk to you
    about a portion of this research.
  129. It’s something that
    particularly interests me
  130. but actually profoundly affects us all.
  131. It’s the relationship that exists
    between music and our memories.
  132. But first, let that neural symphony
    activate in your brain
  133. thanks to the notes that Andrea will play.
  134. [Music and memory]
  135. (Music)
  136. Music has a very strong -
  137. (Applause)
  138. Obviously this presentation
    wouldn’t have the same value
  139. without all of this.
  140. I know it's an added value.
  141. Music has a very strong evocative power.
  142. A song has literally the power
    to let us travel in time,
  143. because thanks to a song
    we can rediscover feelings,
  144. experiences, people,
  145. emotions we associate with that song.
  146. Perhaps this is what happened to you now
    with this version of "Bohemian Rhapsody".
  147. Judging by the applause, I’d say so.
  148. Because it’s undoubtedly familiar to you.
  149. Others recognised the song.
  150. Fans, immediately, from the first notes,
  151. and others took a little longer.
  152. Along with the recognition,
  153. some remembered the associated lyrics
  154. and others went beyond this
  155. and were able to associate this song
  156. with memories from their own lives.
  157. We brought music's evocative power
    into the laboratory,
  158. aiming to understand
    what its base mechanisms were
  159. and, therefore, better understand
    what was behind it.
  160. We ran several studies:
    on young people, elderly people,
  161. where we asked them to retain information,
    with or without music,
  162. while monitoring in the meanwhile
    their brain activities.
  163. What we discovered
  164. is that music can really help us
    remember information better
  165. and in doing so, while it helps
    our memory processes,
  166. it modulates our brains.
  167. Modulating those areas
    that we know are important
  168. to store and retrieve information,
  169. as well as areas that are involved
    in the expression of our emotions
  170. and, therefore, our pleasure.
  171. Here we encounter
    our pleasure responses again.
  172. Here they aren’t an end in themselves:
  173. they become relevant and fundamental.
  174. Because we found out,
    the better we are
  175. to activate our pleasure, reward,
    and motivation responses
  176. in reaction to music,
  177. the more chills we have,
  178. the more these responses
    can activate regions
  179. that play an important role
    in forming our memories.
  180. And consequently, the benefits of music
    on our memory will be greater.
  181. Obviously, this has
    very important implications,
  182. especially if we consider
    cases of memory deficits,
  183. especially if we consider our society,
  184. which is experiencing
    an increase in ageing,
  185. both normal and pathological.
  186. During my research
    I had the greatest opportunity
  187. to see Alzheimer patients
  188. who were completely
    extinguished by the illness,
  189. being able to recognise
    a song from their past
  190. and emerge from that apathy,
    even just for a second.
  191. Music has the power,
    through these people’s emotions,
  192. to bring back some personal memories,
  193. that is, memories of their lives
  194. that seemed lost until a moment before,
    precisely because of the illness.
  195. And in some cases,
  196. music also manages to facilitate
    the learning of new information.
  197. This type of research lets us understand
    a little more about how we operate,
  198. how our brain works,
  199. our most complex,
    perhaps most fascinating organ.
  200. I believe, these studies
    also teach us something.
  201. In this case, they teach us
    that our emotional responses,
  202. emotive, pleasure, those we deem
  203. more instinctive, archaic,
    shallow, irrational,
  204. we can actually take them
  205. and use them to modulate, improve,
    and stimulate cognitive functions
  206. that instead we deem high and complex,
    such as learning and memory.
  207. All neuroscience and music studies
    move in the same direction,
  208. stressing the importance
    of music in our lives.
  209. In our lives means in our society.
  210. Not only in our homes, in our headphones:
  211. but also in education,
    when we take our first steps in society;
  212. and in a clinical setting,
  213. when instead we deals
    with hardships on our journey.
  214. Music is a powerful instrument,
    but this power is non-invasive, cheap
  215. and not only it can,
    it must be accessible to all.
  216. So let's fill our lives with music,
  217. giving our brains the chance
    to profoundly change, transform itself,
  218. throughout our entire existence.
  219. Let's give our brains
    the chance to change,
  220. which is fundamental
    for our cognitive functioning.
  221. Let's listen to music, let’s make music,
  222. let's not miss out
    on even a second of that pleasure,
  223. of those shivers that it can give us.
  224. Let’s release as much dopamine as we can.
  225. But let's carefully choose
    the music we listen to today,
  226. because it could be the very music
    that will reactivate us tomorrow.
  227. Thank you.
  228. (Applause)