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Sting's brain scanned for new study on music

ShowbizBy Sunday World
Sting's brain scanned for new study on music

Sting's brain has been scanned to see how he analyses music.

The 64-year-old musician met with cognitive psychologist Dr Daniel Levitin in Montreal, where the doctor mapped how Sting's brain organises music.

Levitin said: "The state-of-the-art techniques really allowed us to make maps of how Sting's brain organises music. That's important because at the heart of great musicianship is the ability to manipulate in one's mind rich representation of the desired soundscape."

Sting reached out to Levitin because he is a fan of his book, 'This Is Your Brain on Music', according to an article released by McGill University.

Both functional and structural scans were conducted in one session at the brain imaging unit of McGill's Montreal Neurological Institute.

They used a fMRI (Functional magnetic resonance imaging) machine which measures brain activity by detecting changes associated with blood flow.

Levitin and his colleague Dr Scott Grafton have published their findings in the journal Neurocase.

Dr Grafton said: "At the heart of these methods is the ability to test if patterns of brain activity are more alike for two similar styles of music compared to different styles. This approach has never before been considered in brain imaging experiments of music."

Dr Levitan added: "Sting's brain scan pointed us to several connections between pieces of music that I know well but had never seen as related before. Piazzolla's 'Libertango' and the Beatles' 'Girl' proved to be two of the most similar.

"Both are in minor keys and include similar melodic motifs, the paper reveals. Another example: Sting's own 'Moon over Bourbon Street' and Booker T. and the MG's 'Green Onions,' both of which are in the key of F minor, have the same tempo (132 beats per minute) and a swing rhythm."

The pair are hoping to do similar scans on athletes, writers and painters.