-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Nov. 15 (HealthDay News) -- Unique patterns of brain
activity occur when rappers spontaneously improvise lyrics, a
technique known as freestyling.
That's the finding of a study that included 12 freestyle rap
artists who had at least five years of rapping experience. The
results were published online Nov. 15 in the journal
Researchers used functional MRI to monitor the rappers' brain
activity while they performed a well-rehearsed set of lyrics and
while they improvised lyrics and rhythmic patterns.
During the freestyle rapping, there was increased activity in an
area of the brain that is responsible for motivation of thought and
action (called the medial prefrontal cortex). At the same time,
there was decreased activity in brain regions that normally play a
supervisory or monitoring role (dorsolateral prefrontal
These shifts in brain function may promote the free expression
of thoughts and words without the usual neural constraints,
according to the researchers at the U.S. National Institute on
Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD).
The investigators also found that freestyling increased activity
in the perisylvian system (involved in language production), the
amygdala (involved in emotion) and cingulate motor areas. This
suggests that improvisation engages a brain network that links
motivation, language mood and action, the researchers, led by
Siyuan Liu, explained in a NIDCD news release.
Further research of this brain network's involvement in other
art forms that feature the innovative use of language, such as
poetry and storytelling, could help improve understanding about the
initial, improvisatory phase of the creative process, the study
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