Reflections on the Musical Mind: An Evolutionary Perspective

Reflections on the Musical Mind: An Evolutionary Perspective


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What's so special about music? We experience it internally, yet at the same time it is highly social. Music engages our cognitive/affective and sensory systems. We use music to communicate with one another—and even with other species—the things that we cannot express through language. Music is both ancient and ever evolving. Without music, our world is missing something essential.

In Reflections on the Musical Mind, Jay Schulkin offers a social and behavioral neuroscientific explanation of why music matters. His aim is not to provide a grand, unifying theory. Instead, the book guides the reader through the relevant scientific evidence that links neuroscience, music, and meaning. Schulkin considers how music evolved in humans and birds, how music is experienced in relation to aesthetics and mathematics, the role of memory in musical expression, the role of music in child and social development, and the embodied experience of music through dance. He concludes with reflections on music and well-being. Reflections on the Musical Mind is a unique and valuable tour through the current research on the neuroscience of music.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691157443
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 07/28/2013
Pages: 272
Sales rank: 1,190,030
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Jay Schulkin is Research Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and member at the Center for the Brain Basis of Cognition, both at Georgetown University. He is the author of numerous books, including Roots of Social Sensibility and Neural Function, Bodily Sensibility: Intelligent Action, Cognitive Adaptation: A Pragmatist Perspective, and Adaptation and Well-Being: Social Allostasis.

Table of Contents

Foreword vii

Preface xi

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Music and the Brain

An Evolutionary Context 18

Chapter 2 Bird Brains, Social Contact, and Song 37

Chapter 3 Human Song

Dopamine, Syntax, and Morphology 62

Chapter 4 Musical Expectations, Probability, and Aesthetics 87

Chapter 5 Musical Expression, Memory, and the Brain 119

Chapter 6 Development, Music, and Social Contact 140

Chapter 7 Music and Dance 156

Conclusion Music and Well-Being 172

Notes 179

References 201

Index 249

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"Reflections on the Musical Mind discusses the relationships between music, the evolutionary psychology of music, and molecular, cognitive, and social neuroscience. Although one can take issue with some of the arguments presented, this book is a useful and entertaining survey of a wide range of neuroscience evidence related to music and the brain."—Peter Cariani, Harvard Medical School

"The many aspects of music—its social, emotional, cognitive, somatic, and evaluative components—all have their analogs in activities of the human brain. So it makes sense for a neuroscientist, especially one well versed in music, to explain these connections. By taking an evolutionary perspective and asking the difficult why questions—Why do we have music? Why might it be beneficial for society? Why is music linked with dancing? Why do we respond emotionally to music?—Schulkin engages his reader in issues that have been debated for centuries but that now can be examined afresh."—from the foreword by Robert O. Gjerdingen

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