The Anatomy of Mu­sic

PS Magazine - - HEALTH & WELLNESS -

The song came on the ra­dio and an image flashed: She was wear­ing a blue skirt that swirled like the wind as she moved. A black belt was tight around her waist hold­ing in her silky white blouse. The room was cloudy, filled with the haze of cig­a­rette smoke. He held her tight as he spun her around the dance floor. His deep, brown eyes were hold­ing her gaze as her cheeks be­came hot and the fluttering in her stom­ach grew. She could smell the musky scent of his warm skin pressed to her face.

As she sat star­ing out the win­dow of her room in the se­nior fa­cil­ity, her body swayed in her wheelchair. She could feel the smile grow­ing across her face. That mem­ory was more than 65 years ago but in her mind it was vivid and alive. She was re­liv­ing it.

Our mem­o­ries are the threads of the fab­ric that makes up our life sto­ries. We weave these mem­o­ries from the past into the present like a well-made ta­pes­try, the threads made up of emo­tions, images, smells, tem­per­a­ture, and phys­i­cal sen­sa­tions.

While mem­o­ries can be trig­gered by sounds, smells, and places, mu­sic ap­pears to be one of the strong­est trig­gers to evoke the most vivid mem­o­ries, par­tic­u­larly when a song hasn’t been heard for a long time.

When we hear a song for the first time, our brain pro­cesses it through the au­di­tory cor­tex as we in­te­grate the melodies, har­monies, and rhythms. Our pre­mo­tor cor­tex, the area of the brain that co­or­di­nates move­ment, is ac­ti­vated as we sing along to the song. When we dance to the mu­sic, our

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