Oliver Sacks is one of the premier neuroscientists in America. He was recently interviewed for a special on PBS called, “The Music Insinct”. He talks about how music changes the brain. A selection:
Oliver Sacks: I said earlier that there’s no one music center. And one of the things which is now apparent from brain imaging is that music can involve many different parts of the brain, special parts for the response to pitch, and to frequency, and to timbre, and to rhythm, and to melodic contour, and to harmonic and everything else. In fact you may find that much more of the brain is involved in the perception and the response to music than to language or anything else. One aspect of this is that if one does brain imaging, you can often distinguish the brains of musicians from the brains of non musicians because certain parts of the brain may become so enlarged in response to music that you can see the changes with the naked eye. You can’t say that’s the brain of a mathematician or a visual artist. You may be able to say I think that’s the brain of a musician.
You can view a video of him explaining more about music and the brain here: