A Journal of Musical ThingsRappers Have Their Brains Scanned, All in the Name of Science - A Journal of Musical Things
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Published on November 16th, 2012 | by Alan Cross

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Rappers Have Their Brains Scanned, All in the Name of Science

What makes someone creative?  No clue, but scientists are determined to find out.

A recent experiment was conducted on rappers.  How do they manage such an awesome stream-of-consciousness performance?   Scientific American reports:

Rappers making up rhymes on the fly while in a brain scanner have provided an insight into the creative process.

Freestyle rapping — in which a performer improvises a song by stringing together unrehearsed lyrics — is a highly prized skill in hip hop. But instead of watching a performance in a club, Siyuan Liu and Allen Braun, neuroscientists at the US National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Maryland, and their colleagues had 12 rappers freestyle in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machine.

The artists also recited a set of memorized lyrics chosen by the researchers. By comparing the brain scans from rappers taken during freestyling to those taken during the rote recitation, they were able to see which areas of the brain are used during improvisation. The study is published today in Scientific Reports.

Read more here.


About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.



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