Off the top of the dome
March 11, 2011 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Dr. Charles Limb put jazz musicians and freestyle rappers in an fMRI machine and asked them to improvise/freestyle.

TED blog interview with Limb.
posted by AceRock (8 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Could anyone point me towards the most relevant/notable scientific publications resulting from this work? Also, in general, it'd be nice if science MeFi posts would do that, so that it's possible to really evaluate the work.
posted by IjonTichy at 2:48 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

Here is one published study. And another.
posted by AceRock at 2:53 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

AceRock, great links.

I'm not exactly a neuroscientist...but all the neuroscientists whose classes I have taken kinda laugh at the "right brain-left brain" theories.

The second study you posted is just a review article; it takes bits and pieces from other research and kinda puts them together.

As for the first one...I know fMRI is expensive. REALLY expensive. But backing up left brain-right brain arguments with a sample size of 12 (3 females) is very very very anecdotal.
posted by hal_c_on at 3:01 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'll just leave this here.
posted by quoquo at 3:14 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]

This is awesome. I'd been talking with a friend about these ideas (fMRI with a freestyling rapper) a while back, and it is incredible to see them show up in Limbs' work. Funny enough, Mos Def clearly wasn't freestyling (in the off the head sense) in the sample video but really that's just a footnote.

I hope Limb gets Supernat in there somehow. That man has a true gift. It isn't hard to freestyle if you constantly practice for a few weeks (if you're already decent at rapping), but Supernat takes it to another level to where it's almost like he just turns his brain to a channel. It's off the head without question and almost always completely on beat. It's phenomenal.
posted by cashman at 5:47 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

That was worth it just to see Limb rap. But seriously, I thought it was a cool experiment and Limb was pretty clear and realistic about the anecdotal nature of it. The design of the experiments alone was cool, too.
posted by Nattie at 8:59 PM on March 11, 2011

Hemispheric specialization is not left-brain/right-brain theory (or, rather, the latter is a very crude and pop-psychology generalization of the former). No serious neuroscientist would contest that most vertebrate brains show lateralization of function, especially mammalian brains, especially especially primate brains, and especially^3 human brains. What gets teh lulz is when people start assuming that an ENTIRE task takes place on one side of the brain (in one area) or that some creative person is a "right-brain" fellow.
posted by amberwb at 9:56 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

And, indeed, to conclude that less creative people must therefore rely more heavily on the left-hand side would be preposterous.
posted by Sys Rq at 2:38 PM on March 12, 2011

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