The Neurosciences and Music Education: An Online Database of Neuromusical Brain Imaging Research

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Richard D. Edwards (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site:
Donald Hodges

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to create an online database to organize and summarize the field of neuromusical research (i.e., the study of brain processes involved with musical experiences). The guiding principles of this dissertation were to (1) assess and clarify the current state of neuromusical research, and (2) explore how this research relates to the pedagogical, psychological and philosophical foundations of music education. Given the rise of brain-imaging neuromusical research in the last two decades, in conjunction with a lack of holistic efforts to evaluate these studies, there is a clear need to compile and summarize neuromusical research into a summative database. Until this time, no such resource has existed. The resulting database of this project has been titled the Musical Brain Imaging Research Database (MusicBIRD) and currently holds 473 studies of neuromusical research available online at Qualifying neuromusical studies were identified with a keyword search for "music" and "brain" in leading electronic research databases (e.g., PubMed and RILM). After reviewing each study, summative information was entered into an electronic storage format within the following data fields: Title, Author(s), Date, Keywords, Source, Volume, Issue, Online Source, and Abstract. A content analysis of the studies in the final database was conducted to reveal trends in neuromusical research and insights for music educators about the role of neuroscience in music teaching. Among the leading trends in neuromusical research identified in the content analysis were the most frequently used brain imaging device (EEG in 28.8% of all MusicBIRD studies), the most common research methodologies - evaluating changes in brain activity due to music processing (35.57% of all MusicBIRD studies), and comparisons between musically and non-musically trained subjects (25.57% of all MusicBIRD studies). The implications of neuromusical research for music educators include a strengthening of the belief that the potential for music processing is ubiquitous to all humans, and that until more longitudinal studies can be conducted, a clear understanding of whether musical training does or does not have an effect on non-musical brain processes (e.g., language skills) is not possible at this time. Based on a review of neuromusical research through 2006, several recommendations for future research include brain imaging scans associated with effective pedagogical music learning practices, longitudinal studies of brain development during periods of musical training (e.g., preschool to adulthood), and investigating the potential for shared, proximal, or distinct neural networks dedicated to music and non-music systems.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2008
Music, Brain, Neuroscience, Music Education, Neuromusical Research
Music--Psychological aspects
Auditory perception--Physiological aspects
Cognitive neuroscience
Music--Physiological effect
Musical perception
Music--Instruction and study
Music--Physiological aspects.

Email this document to