I am pretty sure I have no rhythm.
I can’t dance, can’t tap my foot along with a song, and whenever I’m in a gospel-style sing-and-clap situation, I always end up accidentally clapping at the wrong time. While I’ve always seen my lack of rhythm as a detriment to my social life, when I mentioned it to Ani Patel and John Iversen, biologists at the Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, their eyes lit up.
“Really? That’s very interesting,” Iversen told me. “Maybe you could participate in some of our experiments.”
Patel and Iverson’s interest in my rhythmical challenges isn’t just for their own amusement. For the past 13 years, they’ve been at the forefront of an emerging research field, studying the neuroscience of music.
Although the study of music and the mind might sound frivolous, Patel and Iversen use their work to lay the foundation for a deeper understanding of how the brain processes language, rhythm and movement, which can aid in the treatments for a variety of diseases, including Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and language disorders.
Music is a handy tool to help build this base understanding of the brain because it has a wide range of impacts on the brain, causing auditory, motor and emotional responses, Patel said.