RESOURCES: Rhythm & the Brain

Josef Albers - Rhythm 1958 bahaus-movement

Josef Albers - Rhythm 1958 bahaus-movement


"…Wherever there is life, there is a mass moved by a force. All mass possesses inertia, all force tends to persist. Owing to this universal property and condition, a body, be it at rest or in motion, tends to remain in the same state, and a force, manifesting itself anywhere and through whatever cause, produces an equivalent opposing force, and as an absolute necessity of this it follows that every movement in nature must be rhythmical…

It is borne out in everything we perceive - in the movement of a planet, in the surging and ebbing of the tide, in the reverberations of the air, the swinging of a pendulum, the oscillations of an electric current and in the infinitely varied phenomena of organic life. Does not the whole of human life attest to it? Birth, growth, old age, and death of an individual family, race or nation, what is it all but a rhythm? ALL life manifestation, even in its most intricate form, as exemplified in man, however involved and inscrutable, is only a movement, to which the same general laws of movement which govern throughout the physical universe must be applicable…”

Full Read: Google Books


“Rhythm and resonance order the natural world. Dissonance and disharmony arise only when we limit our capacity to resonate totally and completely with the rhythms of life. The origin of the word rhythm is Greek meaning “to flow.” We can learn “to flow” with the rhythms of life by simply learning to feel the beat, pulse, or groove while drumming. It is a way of bringing the essential self into accord with the flow of a dynamic, interrelated universe, helping us feel connected rather than isolated and estranged."

“Rhythmic stimulation is a simple yet effective technique for affecting states of mind. A recent study by Barry Quinn, Ph.D. demonstrates that even a brief drumming session can double alpha brain wave activity, dramatically reducing stress. The brain changes from beta waves (focused concentration and activity) to Alpha waves (calm and relaxed), producing feelings of euphoria and well-being.”

“…research has demonstrated that the physical transmission of rhythmic energy to the brain synchronizes the two cerebral hemispheres. When the logical left hemisphere and the intuitive right hemisphere begin to pulsate in harmony, the inner guidance of intuitive knowing can then flow unimpeded into conscious awareness...”

“…The reason rhythm is such a powerful tool is that it permeates the entire brain. Vision, for example, is in one part of the brain, speech another, but drumming accesses the whole brain. The sound of drumming generates dynamic neuronal connections in all parts of the brain even where there is significant damage or impairment such as in attention deficit disorder (ADD)…”

“Music educator Ed Mikenas finds that drumming provides “an authentic experience of unity and physiological synchronicity. If we put people together who are out of sync with themselves (i.e., diseased, addicted) and help them experience the phenomenon of entrainment, it is possible for them to feel with and through others what it is like to be synchronous in a state of preverbal connectedness.”

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“Listening to, playing, reading, and creating music involves practically every part of the brain. In the book “This Is Your Brain on Music,” Daniel J. Levitin explains that listening to music first involves subcortical structures like cochlear nuclei, the brain stem, and the cerebellum. It then moves up to auditory cortices on both sides of the brain. And when you hear music, listening also involves the memory centers in the brain, such as the hippocampus and lowest parts of the frontal lobe. Tapping along with the music gets your cerebellum involved. Reading music involves the visual cortex, and listening to or recalling lyrics will involve language centers in the temporal and frontal lobes…

At deeper levels, music stimulates activities of the amygdala, which regulates emotion, and even the brain stem, which is the center for many of the vital functions of our bodies such as breathing, heart rate, and digestion.

Due to its unique nature, music can be an effective way to change and treat our brains. Many interesting stories have been recorded in various fields. A woman with Parkinson’s disease, for example, who was not able to balance and had difficulty in walking, could move her legs with ease while music was playing, and showed improved balance and found it hard to stop dancing...

A recent study demonstrates that drumming can induce synchronous brain activities in various areas of brain and can be beneficial for attention deficit disorder, alleviating anxiety, and stress relief. It also creates a sense of bonding and connectedness from person to person in a community…

If you lie down and stay for a while in a very quiet place, you may begin to hear the pumping sound of your own heart. As the heart beats, the body is continuously generating rhythm in our lives. From the beginning, the fetus can listen to the mother’s heartbeat, and sounds of its parents. The reaction of babies to lullabies suggests that musical ability is an innate function of human beings.

Starting with tapping a foot to the music, we can develop a rhythm with our body. Practicing in the place where you won’t be interrupted and using your body as a drum can be one way to develop musical function and communicate with your brain.”

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“The brain absolutely has rhythm," says Nathan Urban, a neuroscientist at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.

When you concentrate, Urban says, your brain produces rapid, rhythmic electrical impulses called gamma waves. When you relax, it generates much slower alpha waves…

The internal cadences of the brain and nervous system appear to play an important role in everything from walking to thinking, Urban says. And abnormal rhythms, he says, have been associated with problems including schizophrenia, epilepsy, autism and Parkinson's disease.

Urban has been studying how brain cells achieve this synchrony and has found evidence that it works a bit like a room full of people clapping their hands. At first, each person claps to his own beat. But if you ask them to clap together, they'll start listening to their neighbors and adjusting their rhythms until the claps are synchronized.

Brain cells appear to do something very similar, Urban says. There's still debate about why this synchronization takes place. But many scientists believe it's important, because they know that when any two cells fire together, the connections between them get stronger, a process that is critical to learning and memory.

"Many of these rhythms are maintained by cells in the nervous system, not the brain, Churchland says. This means the brain can use a kind of shorthand to control motion. So instead of sending instructions for each muscle contraction needed to take a step, the brain sends a general command: "Activate the walking rhythm."

"Diseases including epilepsy, schizophrenia and Parkinson's can disrupt the brain's normal rhythms. People with Parkinson's disease, for example, tend to develop abnormal firing patterns in their brains that result in tremor and other difficulties with movement...these symptoms of Parkinson's are greatly reduced when patients respond to the external rhythms of music and dance."

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TIMING, RHYTHM AND THE BRAIN: Why Timing Affects Learning

"when you hear the words structurally and functionally different, it’s easy to jump to the conclusion that nothing can be done. But here is the beauty of the human brain: it’s trainable. And training the brain to have better rhythm and timing comes in the form of movement therapy which looks a lot like playing."

“In order to improve the brain’s timing system we have to engage our children in activities that synchronize their bodies with a beat whether it’s with the beat their bodies are making or an outside source like music.”

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“Learning is making synaptic connections. Instruction gets the body involved in order to have a new experience, which further enriches the brain. When we also pay attention and repeat our new skill over and over again, our brains will change.”

“When energy is highly synchronous and patterned, it is profoundly more powerful…”

“Repetition reinforces the circuits in your brain and forms more neural connections…”

Full Read: Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself x Dr. Joe Dispenza

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