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The researchers also found that funniness ratings were higher for captions created while the participants had higher activity in the temporal regions of their brain during humor creation.

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This is one of the first studies where listening to music has been explored at molecular level, and the first study to show association between arginine vasopressin receptor 1A (AVPR1A) gene variants and listening to music. Previously, an association between AVPR1A and musical aptitude had been reported. AVPR1A gene is a gene that has been associated with social communication and attachment behavior in human and other species. The vasopressin homolog increases vocalization in birds and influences breeding in lizards and fishes. The results suggest biological contribution to the sound perception (here listening to music), provide a molecular evidence of sound or music’s role in social communication, and are providing tools for further studies on gene-culture evolution in music.

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Genetics of Music

“FOXP1, one of the candidate genes discovered, has been previously found to affect both human language development and songbirds’ singing. The researchers also identified RGS9 as another gene that is implicated in song learning and singing in songbirds. RGS9 is expressed in the corpus striatum together with dopamine receptors. The striatum is activated by expectations in music. When those expectations are met, dopamine is released in the striatum giving the mind a sense of satisfaction. Another member of the RGS gene family, RGS2, is known to become activated when musicians play music. “

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Several of the up-regulated genes were known to be responsible for song learning and singing in songbirds, suggesting a common evolutionary background of sound perception across species. (more…)

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 A word in a sentence derives its meaning from the context. The same applies to a tone in a chord sequence or a piece of music. Language and music share the same brain region to create order in both processes: arranging words in a sentence and arranging tones in a chord sequence. Reading and listening at the same time overload the capacity of this brain region, known as Broca’s area, which is located somewhere under your left temple.

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Genes linked to composing and arranging suggest the role of the cerebellar LTD pathway, known to affect the acquisition of novel information and memory, as a common denominator for these cognitive activities.

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However, a significant portion of people also reported painful experiences associated with listening to sad music, which invariably related to personal loss such as the death of a loved one, divorce, breakup, or other significant adversity in life.

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