Drummers are often dismissed as not having a lot of acumen, and they even end up at the receiving end of not-so-nice jokes.

Science Shows How Drummers’ Brains Are Actually Different From Everybody Elses’ Image Credit: AP

In the music world, drummers always bear the brunt of the joke. Most have the same punchline: Drummers are idiots. Take, for example, the following: “How do you tell if the stage is level? The drummer is drooling from both sides of his mouth.” Via Music Mic

Fortunately for them, drummers now have scientific research proving they are intelligent – they might even be smarter than their band mates whose musicianship is less rhythmically-focused.

One of the first scientists to explore the drummer’s brain was David Eagleman, who has been referred to as a man that is obsessed with time. He conducted an experiment involving professional drummers to prove or disprove Brian Eno’s theory that the mental makeup of drummers was unique.

“Eno was right: drummers do have different brains from the rest.” Eagleman’s test showed “a huge statistical difference between the drummers’ timing and that of test subjects.” Says Eagleman, “Now we know that there is something anatomically different about them.” Their ability to keep time gives them an intuitive understanding of the rhythmic patterns they perceive all around them. That difference can be annoying—like the pain of having perfect pitch in a perpetually off-key world. Via Open Culture

Image Courtesy of YouTube

A study by the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm revealed a link between intelligence, problem-solving and good time. In the study, volunteers were asked to keep time with a drumstick before they took intelligence tests. Those with t

he best sense of rhythm also happened to score highest in the mental assessments.

Prof Frederic Ullen, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, concluded that there was a link between intelligence, good timing and the part of the brain used for problem-solving.

He said: “The rhythmic accuracy in brain activity that is observed when a person maintains a steady beat is also important to the problem-solving capacities measured with the intelligence tests.” Via The Telegraph

Prof Ullen also found that participants with high levels of general intelligence were also more stable when performing a timing task, and their brains held larger volumes of white matter which are responsible for connecting different regions of the brain.

In addition to being geniuses in their own right, drummers also have a significant effect on those around them. One is the transfer of their natural intelligence.

In studies on the effects of rhythm on brains, researchers showed that experiencing a steady rhythm actually improves cognitive function. One psychology professor at the University of Washington used rhythmic light and sound therapy on his students and discovered that their grades improved. Similarly, one researcher at the University of Texas Medical Branch used that method on a group of elementary and middle school boys with ADD. The therapies had a similar effect to Ritalin, eventually making lasting increases to the boys’ IQ scores. Via Music Mic

Research has also shown that when they play together, the levels of happiness and tolerance in drummers increases – an observation that has also been made among Olympic runners. Drummer’s high – as it’s called is an endorphin rush that is only stimulated when you play (not just listen to) music.

Image Courtesy of Wikimedia

The rush has been found to increase a person’s threshold for pain and even increase positive emotions, leading to people working together more cooperatively. In fact, researchers hypothesized that because of this effect, drumming plays a major role in community-building, and that the evolution of human society may depend on shared rhythms.

So there you have it!

So the stereotypes about drummers aren’t just baseless, they’re also plain wrong. Drummers are people tapped into a fundamental undercurrent of what it means to be human, people around whom bands and communities form.

And admit it, sometimes they even write great songs. Via Music Mic

Featured Image: Image Credit

Rhythm & The Brain: Superorganism


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