While the arts are different from scientific pursuits, a partnership between the Kennedy Center and the National Institutes of Health is proving that the two disciplines can combine to provide a deeper understanding of the brain and what it can create. Singer Renee Fleming worked with neuroscientists to investigate the connection music has in the mind. Different regions of the brain combine when musicians perform. From reading the notes to making the sounds and controlling breathing and adding style, it's a whole brain process that Fleming wanted the public to understand.
For two hours, Fleming stayed in an MRI scanner. She underwent a functional MRI (fMRI) scan that prompted her to sing, imagine herself singing, and talk at different times during the scan. The scan showed how each part of the brain processed the tasks of singing, speaking and thinking about singing. To Fleming's surprise, the job of imagining singing a song showed the most activity in the brain. Fleming wanted the connection between music and the brain to be demonstrated so that both scientists and musicians could learn from each other.