Our Brains Encode Musical Predictions Even When Songs Doesn’t Play

Imagined Audio and Silence Set off Similar Mind Action

Imagining a track triggers equivalent mind activity as moments of silence in new music, according to a pair of studies recently posted in JNeurosci. The outcomes reveal how the brain proceeds responding to new music, even when none is playing.

When we pay attention to tunes, the mind tries to predict what will come subsequent. A surprise, these as a loud observe or disharmonious chord, raises brain activity. Nevertheless it is complicated to isolate the brain’s prediction signal because it also responds to the genuine sensory expertise.

Imagined Music and Silence Trigger Similar Brain Activity

Silence and imagined new music induced mind action with an inverted polarity to activity from listening to new music. Credit: Di Liberto, Marion, and Shamma, JNeurosci 2021

Di Liberto, Marion, and Shamma used EEG to measure the brain activity of musicians although they listened to or imagined Bach piano melodies. Activity while imagining music experienced the opposite polarity of activity although listening to tunes, indicating when one was favourable, the other was negative. The same sort of exercise transpired in silent moments of the tunes when statistically there could have been a notice, but there wasn’t.

There is no sensory enter all through silence and imagined new music, so this exercise arrives from the brain’s predictions. The analysis crew also decoded the mind exercise to identify which music an individual was imagining.

The scientists find music is more than a sensory experience for the mind. In its place, the mind retains generating predictions even when music is not playing.


“The Songs of Silence. Element I: Responses to Musical Imagery Encode Melodic Anticipations and Acoustics” by Guilhem Marion, Giovanni M. Di Liberto and Shihab A. Shamma, 2 August 2021, JNeurosci.
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0183-21.2021

“The songs of silence. Part II: Music Listening Induces Imagery Responses” by Giovanni M. Di Liberto, Guilhem Marion and Shihab A. Shamma, 2 August 2021, JNeurosci.
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0184-21.2021