Jul 21 2010

Music and Brain Plasticity

A recent review of the literature on music and brain plasticity was recently published in Nature Neuroscience Reviews. The authors address a very interesting question that I have been writing about now for years – how widespread are the effects of mental training on overall cognitive function?

We know that the vertebrate brain displays considerable plasticity – it learns and remembers. When you train at a task, you get better at it. For example, I can type pretty fast. I don’t have to think about where the keys are, and I don’t even have to look at the keyboard. I just think of the words I want to type and my fingers fly effortless over the keyboard. This is a product of decades of typing.

Anyone who has learned to play a musical instrument is also familiar with brain plasticity. After years of playing, the complexity and subtlety with which you can perform on an instrument becomes impressive. You don’t have to think consciously about every move – you just feel it. Further, your ear is more sensitive to subtle aspects of pitch, tone, timing, and timbre. You notice things other people don’t notice.

That much is very clear from the research and not controversial. This new paper reviews the evidence which establishes that these changes in ability that accrue with music training result in changes to the brain itself – the relevant areas of the brain that involve auditory processing and motor control are larger and more active in musicians than non-musicians, and this correlates with age of onset of training and duration of training.

In addition, the brain changes associated with musical training occur at cortical and sub-cortical levels – meaning in the parts of the brain that involve auditory processing prior to conscious awareness. And again, this applies to music and language.

But when we move beyond this basic fact of neural plasticity, we start to get into some controversy. The next question is – do increases in auditory function that directly relate to music training extend to auditory processing in general? Would they apply, for example, to the auditory processing of language?

There is also a further question beyond that – does musical training improve brain function in areas not related directly to auditory processing or motor control? Does musical training make people “smarter” by improving their memory, attention, or other generalizable mental skills?

I have gone back and forth on this question over the years, as conflicting evidence comes in. Recently I have been leaning toward a negative conclusion – that training in one area does not significantly affect other cognitive areas. Last month, for example, I reported on a Nature study that showed no such effect. “Brain training” improves the task that is being trained, but does not appear to transfer to other tasks.

What does this latest review have to say about music? They report:

Below, we describe data that support the view that the fine-grained auditory skills of musicians, which are acquired through years of training, percolate to other domains, such as speech, language, emotion and auditory processing. Thus, music training improves auditory skills that are not exclusively related to music.

They go on to discuss the fact that the processing of language involves many of the same cognitive skills as music: discriminating changes in pitch, deriving information from sound, and directing attention toward the details of sound. This makes perfect sense. In fact I would go beyond that to speculate that our appreciation for music may in fact be an evolutionary outgrowth of language itself. From an evolutionary point of view, music may be a side consequence of our adaptation for spoken language.

An excellent example presented in the paper is that of processing regularities in auditory sensory input. When trying to separate the sound of a person speaking from background noise, auditory processing in the brain looks for statistical regularities in the sound, distinct from the randomness of background noise. So the processing is there to appreciate regularities. This same processing gives us an appreciation for the regular timing in music. It is an excellent example of how evolutionary adaptation can result in “unintended consequences.”

But further it creates the potential to improve the ability to distinguish speech from background noise through musical training, since the same underlying neurological processing is involved.

But what about the final question – does music training percolate to other areas of cognition not related to auditory processing or the motor skills required to play an instrument? (This is the alleged “Mozart” effect, which has not been supported by research.) The paper does not discuss this question, or review any evidence that directly bears on it.

Conclusion

This is a very interesting review, and is an excellent overview of the research on the effects of music training on the brain and its implications for language ability. But the review does not present any evidence to suggest that music training has neurological benefits that extend beyond the brain processing involved in music (which overlaps with language). The “Mozart effect” remains dead.

This review also does not alter my opinion regarding brain training in general – mental training improves the tasks that are trained, and the underlying neurological processing, but not cognitive areas that are not directly related to the tasks that are being trained.

At the end of the article the authors advocate for increased music training as part of basic education. I think they make a reasonable argument for this. Language function is a core cognitive skill, and music training does seem to enhance the auditory processing of language. But I caution against extrapolating beyond the limited implications of the research.

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108 responses so far

108 Responses to “Music and Brain Plasticity”

  1. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 11:54 am

    I find brain training studies difficult to interpret, because I always wonder if we are just testing the training. I guess that is part of what we are trying to find out, but in terms of understanding the brain it seems a bit limited. The training itself may be inadequate for many reasons such as duration, design, etc. People spend hours a day for years playing instruments, and I’m not sure that training used in studies can be a good surrogate marker for this.

    Of course I find a belief in the “Mozart effect” a bit naive. People should seek intellectual stimulation from the multiple angles that they enjoy, and explore new ones. It reminds me of how some people view health: there are many who look for the one supplement to help with everything instead of having a healthy diet, exercise, and getting adequate rest (among other things). Not that I do those things myself (even though I should), but I know that a supplement isnt going to help

  2. mdcatonon 21 Jul 2010 at 12:22 pm

    So the next question is what exactly are the differences between tone-language-trained brains (like Mandarin or Twa-speakers) and non-tone-language-trained brains (like most of us reading this) that correlate with music. There was a paper a couple years ago showing that tone language speakers are *nine times* more likely to have perfect pitch, even matching for education and training. Not surprising in light of this review. So how does the anatomy differ? Has there been culturally-driven selection in any genes in tone-language speakers?

  3. RichWilsonon 21 Jul 2010 at 12:39 pm

    Christopher Hitchens thinks there’s a correlation between the ability to write fiction and an ability to at least write about music.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thXnNVOrri8

    He’s a little vague, and it’s all anecdotal of course, but his thoughts are, as always, interesting.

  4. SARAon 21 Jul 2010 at 1:26 pm

    I always wonder if the mozart effect is due to use of different cognitive skills than are studied. For example if some people imagine fairy tales while listening they may develop non expected skills. If other people don’t fantasize they don’t develop the skills.

  5. deevybeeon 21 Jul 2010 at 1:39 pm

    to mdcaton
    Yes, there has been a paper claiming genetic differences between tone language and other languages, though it is controversial stuff.
    Dediu, D., & Ladd, D. R. (2007). Linguistic tone is related to the population frequency of the adaptive haplogroups of two brain size genes, ASPM and Microcephalin. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 10944-10949.
    commentary
    Nettle, D. (2007). Language and genes: A new perspective on the origins of human cultural diversity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 104, 10755-10756.

  6. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 3:43 pm

    “There was a paper a couple years ago showing that tone language speakers are *nine times* more likely to have perfect pitch, even matching for education and training.”

    I am curious to read this study. I have never thought about a relationship between absolute pitch and native language. I would think that the relationship has to do with the process of learning the language itself, rather than genetic- although you never know.

  7. bartWon 21 Jul 2010 at 4:00 pm

    Steve, you write: “I would go beyond that to speculate that our appreciation for music may in fact be an evolutionary outgrowth of language itself. From an evolutionary point of view, music may be a side consequence of our adaptation for spoken language.”

    I’m not sure this is correct for multiple reasons. One, the perception of music is not limited to auditory channel, there is also a physical aspect, especially in the case of low frequency waves, that the whole body reacts to. Two, the music is extremely capable of inducing/invoking emotions, and even slightly altered states of consciousness – something that language is not as good at. Interestingly, it does it in ways that is opposite to language – there is no encoded meaning in music. Of course, in time can be associated with memories etc., but music does influence your mood regardless of whether you are familiar with it or not.

    If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later.

  8. bindleon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:02 pm

    bartW is correct. In addition, the tones that we call musical were (and still are) evolved for use as communicative signals – and additionally as coded language. Mimicry of tonality seems to have evolved accordingly.

  9. skidooon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:16 pm

    In the same vein as SARA, I wonder how testing for the MozE can effectively isolate sseemingly necessary corollations, such as the benefits of consciousness isolation, the stimulation of self-directed imagination, or the fruits of “unintentional” meditation?

    Music is input; sure. Listening to music always connects consciousness to some presumed external intentionality. But like losing oneself in a crowd, music can provide a potent introspective experience; an experience that is a rabbit hole leading to potentially wild lands that have little to do with tone and rythm.

    Anecdotally, if I listen to certain music, the combination of affect and poetry definitely aligns some gates, relaxes some inhibitions, and helps me direct my mind down creative paths otherwise seemingly inaccessible. And I can’t stand Mozart’s prissy little melodies.

    Interestingly, these same creative dispositions are not uncommonly achieved without any conscious attempt. Often through reading. Sometimes it’s a medium as banal as billboard advertising.

    Still language though.

    Premise: Because novel and uncommon sensory input stimulates concommitant uncommonly employed brain centers, it is easier and more common to experience novel auditory input versus other sensory stimuli.

    Hypothesis: Unfamiliar or sufficiently complex music stimulates uncommonly employed brain centers, and the possiblility that at least a subset of the affected centers could augment certain language skills is reasonably plausible.

    Note: The anecdotal prevalence of a supposed MozE is likely aatributable to 1) Unscrupulous marketing introducing strong observer bias; and 2) The conflation of slight linguistic precociousness with skills from unrelated domains (i.e. skills augmented not by the music, but rather an “ear” with a more granular dynamic tonal range, or perhaps enhanced phonetical reading; either of which could improve information uptake and retention, which would be in evidence most obviously when the associated skills were exercised, leading to a misassignment of effect.)

    Off to crank up the Foo Fighters; maybe some Feelies. Off to bathe in some existential ennui. Mozart’s about as metaphysically and musically interesting as a Saltine. Magic flute indeed. LOL

    * JS Bach was an automaton (excepting that one awesome Toccata and Fugue); Moooozart was a derivitive little lilting hormone; and Beethoven was a creative Vesuvius, cruelly strapped inside an unfortunately mortal man of men.

    Now go bittorrent wisely, you the unwashed anonymouseseses!

    :-*

  10. BillyJoe7on 21 Jul 2010 at 5:39 pm

    bart,

    bartW: “If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later.”

    bindle: “bartW is correct.

    I think bindle means that he agrees with you. ;)
    So do I. :D

    Certainly there were “tones” long before there was language. And it seems more likely that language evolved out of “music”.

    Maybe Steve could comment further.

  11. bindleon 21 Jul 2010 at 5:52 pm

    No I meant that he was correct as to the degree of certainty involved, and that music served an evolutionary purpose. “Correct” implies an understanding that simply choosing to agree may not.

  12. ccbowerson 21 Jul 2010 at 5:53 pm

    “the music is extremely capable of inducing/invoking emotions, and even slightly altered states of consciousness – something that language is not as good at”

    I’m not sure it is true that language is not good at evoking emotions. Certainly spoken language can be very effective at this.

    “Interestingly, it does it in ways that is opposite to language – there is no encoded meaning in music.”

    Again, I don’t agree. There appears to be meaning in music – certain combinations/sequences of notes or rhthms can invoke certain emotions. Sounds can be described as sounding angry, sad, happy, etc. I don’t think this effect is strictly cultural.

    “If at all, music seems to be a result of us having evolved ears to listen to the sounds that surround us, and then evolution of imitation of nature for hunting/protection purposes. I am quite certain that language came much, much later”

    I agree with this idea, but I’m not sure that its accurate to imply that language evolved out of music, but they both evolved from something else that is not exactly language or music.

  13. kijibajion 21 Jul 2010 at 7:06 pm

    When it comes to questions about language, Language Log is a good place to check for answers! Mark Liberman has a very interesting post about absolute pitch, native language, musical ability, genetics, and much more.

    http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1450

    I also recommend reading through the comments as there’s some interesting discussion and links to a bunch of other research.

  14. theshortearedowlon 21 Jul 2010 at 7:18 pm

    I’ve always been told there was a link between musical and mathematical ability – although it was never clear to me whether the people doing the telling meant that studying or playing music would make you stronger at maths, or that people who are good at one tend to be good at the other.

    But I’ve more recently come across the suggestion that music and language are closely linked – both in terms of aural processing and information processing. For one thing, (I was told, and have not checked up on this; please tell me if it is entirely or partially wrong) for the part of the brain in one hemisphere that tends to process music, the corresponding part in the other hemisphere processes spoken language. I know that, for me personally, an effective piece of music can communicate certain concepts or feelings better than spoken language (at least the day-to-day form).

  15. HHCon 21 Jul 2010 at 7:58 pm

    I think musical training has helped create more successes in education/ rehabilitation by empowering a person to create rhythmic speech and non-speech sounds, i.e. self-expression. Memory and perceptual capacities work in tandem. Ever hear of music agnosia?

  16. skidooon 21 Jul 2010 at 9:02 pm

    This discussion’s just climbing higher and higher up Mount Sloppy.

    Define “language.” Define “music.” Are they related on a continuum of “discreetness?” Non-contextual entropy? What about the role of time and auditory stops? What musical distinctions can be made between a Westboro Baptist chant and a Gregorian chant, beyond superficial precision and harmony?

    Are music and language just two words denoting two vaguely-defined categories of structured audio?

    Is language confined to auditory facillitation? Of course not. American Signers would have a laugh at that notion.

    Is music confined to auditory facilitation? By definition.

    The semantics of language developed along a path of convenience, audio being one of many possible targets for implementation. Music is ultimately delimited by the transmission of vibration through some medium.

    Spoken language processing as distinguished by cognitive proocesses from audible Morse Code processing. Then move on to second (spoken) language processing as distinguished from primary (spoken) language processing, across all the sets of acquisition age, instruction method, immersion paramaters, social pressures, etc.

    Finally, consider logic, cognitive symbolism, and the difference between translation, shifting symbol sets, and semantically complete logic facilities.

    And a bunch of other stuff. Then have a drink. Then have a nap.

    Oh, and what ccbowers said, for the most part. What the hell was that other guy talking about?

  17. tiberiouson 21 Jul 2010 at 9:07 pm

    I’m with Steve on this one…expect little skill transfer to other domains.

    But I wonder about high level skills like…diagnosis. Would a highly skilled programmer (symbolic debugging) or automotive mechanic (mechanical troubleshooting) or a physician find that they have a usable skill set in common?

  18. BillyJoe7on 22 Jul 2010 at 12:26 am

    skidoo,

    “What the hell was that other guy talking about?”

    You really don’t want to know.
    No, I mean, you REALLY don’t want to know.

  19. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 1:05 am

    BillyJoe7, who are you trying to pick a fight with, and how does that help this blog post?

  20. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:06 am

    It occurred to me that we should indeed distinguish between sound, melody, music, and language. In this order they are from most basic to more complex, music and language being interrelated, but mostly existing in different domains.

    Let me explain.

    A sound is basically short for accoustinc wave.

    A melody is a semi-continous pattern of various sounds that has some kind of rhythm, not necessarily repeatibility, and is not necessarily made on purpose.

    Music is a purposeful semi-continous pattern of emitted or mimicked sounds that has melody, rhythm and so on.

    Language is a purposeful semi-continous pattern of sounds that has syntax, grammar, and meaning that is encoded in sounds in a separate layer, so to speak. Language devoid of meaning is just a melody.

    There are cases where the two overlap (singing), and create synergetic effect, but generally they are separate “entities”.

    I think the main difference is that we perceive music with the “lower” brain, and for language we need “higher” brain to process the encoded message.

    So perhaps my initial post was not exact – melody certainly was present before both music and language, music implies some kind of agency, and perhaps implies self-awareness, which in turn might need some kind of language, even if for just realizing that what I’m doing is pleasant. And in this sense Steve might be correct.

    And then, it might be just a byproduct of us being wired to notice and enjoy patterns in nature. And that the language itself is a byproduct of this pattern awareness. While I do believe that evolving a language was a seminal event, I am kind of wary about putting too much significance on it.

    Just wondering.

  21. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:12 am

    Ah, skidoo is right. Language is NOT only expressed in sounds. But inventing writing was another seminal step, and from then on we can think about language as an abstract pattern. Before that time though, it was intertwined with sound, and it evolved from sound.

  22. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 4:23 am

    I will continue to add that In addition, the tones that we call musical evolved for use by earlier forms of life as communicative signals – and additionally as coded language. Mimicry of tonality seems to have evolved accordingly. And musical or music-like communication evolved long before we or our ancestors evolved ears to better hear surrounding sounds. Sea creatures without ears nevertheless communicate by sonic tones as one example. So do varieties of insects. Maybe even plants and paramecium.
    http://www.viewingspace.com/genetics_culture/pages_genetics_culture/gc_w03/davis_audio_scope.htm

  23. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 5:51 am

    Bindle, the way I see it you misunderstand the issue. I do not think that anyone doubts that human language developed from simpler communicative sound patterns such as tones. But such sounds would basically be a form of primitive language. Music can thus reasonably be argued to be a by product of the development of complex language in that its main purpose is not communication yet our ability to appreciate it depends on the systems we developed for communication purposes (or which were selected for for that reason).
    Besides, like ccbowers pointed out language is very good at invoking emotions and in fact it is the right brain that gives speech its emotional colouring. Just think of all the different meanings that the phrase “you idiot” can take on depending on how it is said.

  24. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 5:55 am

    Of course written language lacks all of that emotional coloring. (which often leads to problems since our language evolved to include it) Perhaps that is why it id so easy to forget it?

  25. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 12:46 pm

    mazeedt, can you be more clear about what it was then that I got wrong, especially to the extent that I was an idiot to do so? Because otherwise I see no need to make that reference. Are you saying that music in general is a byproduct of the development of complex language rather than that complex language owes its development to the musical languages that preceded it? Birdsong is a musical language and much has been written about its close connection to both our music and our language.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bird_vocalization.
    What ccbowers didn’t point out (yet I didn’t jump in to call him on it, nor refer to him as idiotic) is that language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.
    BartW was right on that score and ccbowers was wrong to say he wasn’t. And you were wrong in turn to take that opportunity to insult me. Birds call each other idiots all the time if you listen carefully to the tone and observe the circumstances. Unless you’re too much of a right brain idiot to bother.

  26. bartWon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:12 pm

    I think that the difference between music and language in terms of inducing/invoking emotions is that for language you need to decode the message – and you already noticed how hard it can be when there are no other clues present like tone, volume, speed, melody and body language – while music does it directly. You don’t need higher brain functions for “receiving” music, and you certainly do for language.

  27. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Good point.

  28. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 3:49 pm

    I’m srry but I never meant to imply that you were an idiot…
    I was thinking of something entirely different when I picked that example, srry if I offended you it was not intentional

  29. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 3:52 pm

    That is where I disagree. Spoken language can contain tone and an emotional imprint apart from the message encoded in syntax. Exactly like music

  30. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 6:36 pm

    By the way:
    “BartW was right on that score and ccbowers was wrong to say he wasn’t.”
    ehm… excuse me, but I beg to differ. Who are you to so authoritatively state what is “right” and what is “wrong” in evolutionary history? You may of course argue that it can reasonably be assumed that “this evolved into that” but unless you have some magical DNA evidence or can show that people were singing before they started to “speak”* (which for the purpose of this discussion I would call communicate via sound) you can not claim that BartW was “right” on the score that language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.
    Where is the evidence to unequivocally support such a statement?

    *or to be precise that the speech did not convey any emotional information before man learned to appreciate music

  31. mazeedton 22 Jul 2010 at 6:38 pm

    on the whole I think that this discussion is becoming terribly confused, it seems to me that we are using different definitions of “speech” and “music”

  32. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 6:53 pm

    “Where is the evidence to unequivocally support such a statement?”

    I’m confident that the evidence can be produced by those familiar with the science, some of whom I’ve had a close association with. From that association I have deduced that bartW knows his stuff, and has been consistent in his presentations of it.
    Is the evidence as of itself unequivocal? No, and likely never will be. But comparatively speaking, bartW has the evidence on his side and ccbowers had none to offer that contradicted it.

  33. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 7:41 pm

    *or to be precise that the speech did not convey any emotional information before man learned to appreciate music”

    The assumption that ‘man learned to appreciate music’ is a premise that I don’t happen to agree with. The presumption that I’ve found to prevail among evolutions is that it was man’s appreciation of his musical facility that contributed to the evolution of his language. Feel free to disagree but don’t assume that I assumed the opposite.

  34. bindleon 22 Jul 2010 at 8:31 pm

    “prevail among evolutionists” is what I meant to write. And here’s a bit of “evidence” that musical appreciation runs in the primate family:
    Chimps Born to Appreciate Music
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/earth/hi/earth_news/newsid_8174000/8174534.stm

  35. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2010 at 1:36 am

    “bartW has the evidence on his side and ccbowers had none to offer that contradicted it.”

    Bindle, so you agree that there is not encoded meaning in music? Where is the evidence for this? You agree that language is not good at evoking emotions? What is the evidence for this? These were the things I stated that I disagreed with. I’m not sure that references are needed to disagree with these ideas. I think that you are trying a bit too hard to disagree with me.

    “I think that the difference between music and language in terms of inducing/invoking emotions is that for language you need to decode the message – and you already noticed how hard it can be when there are no other clues present like tone, volume, speed, melody and body language”

    Language can carry more to decode, but you do not need to decode the ‘words’ to get the message. When it comes to emotional responses it is often how something is said, not the words that are spoken. Removing volume, tone, speed, etc is removing an aspect of the language so of course you lose a lot.

  36. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 2:10 am

    Music was our emotional language before we developed the symbolic forms of language we use at present. And much of that language has retained musical tones specifically to denote feelings that the emotional brain produces. Musical languages are coded, and one reason we find music so powerful is that by retaining some of its feeling, we have retained some awareness of what that coding meant instinctively. So both instinctively and culturally we have retained the emotional effects, and added to them consciously, while essentially letting our words replace the meanings that our various cultures used to carry forward as musically coded phrases.
    Note that whales still use musical phrases for communication, and learn new ones as circumstances require. So do dolphins. So do some birds. So it seems do elephants.

    So there was encoded meaning in music before we developed our less musical language of today, which is contrary to what you had stated as the case. And we still feel the emotional aspects of that code more intensely than our spoken or written language causes us to feel. Note for example how actors and poets take advantage of the tones and rhythms for the maximum emotional effect.

  37. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 4:15 am

    See, just like I said this argument largely arose because we used different definitions of music
    I would not call the “music like” (although whether or not it is in fact particularly much like music could be questioned) “language” that you speak of music but a primitive form of speech.
    I agree with ccbowers we do not actually seem to disagree about anything but semantics

  38. wilktoneon 23 Jul 2010 at 11:05 am

    Thanks for posting about this. Unfortunately, my music educator colleagues are all too willing to suspend disbelief and make somewhat misleading claims about the benefits of musical training:

    http://www.childrensmusicworkshop.com/advocacy/12benefits.html

    I prefer to think of music as important for its own sake. No need to make misleading claims about the benefits of studying it.

  39. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 2:19 pm

    semantics |səˈmantiks|
    plural noun [usu. treated as sing. ]
    the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning

    To paraphrase an old legal saw, when you can’t question the evidence, question the semantics.

  40. ccbowerson 23 Jul 2010 at 2:53 pm

    “So there was encoded meaning in music before we developed our less musical language of today, which is contrary to what you had stated as the case.”

    I never said that there wasn’t meaning encoded in music, in fact I argued this very point myself. The only point I was making is that it is not clear that music came first. I am not stating that language came first either, but it may be that there were ways of making sounds used for communication that are not exactly what we now call music or language.

  41. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:03 pm

    To paraphrase ccbowers you are trying very hard to be antagonistic for no reason.
    I raise a legitimate concern about the common ground that this argument is based on and you reply by insulting me!
    Why is it so important for you to be right at every cost? Perhaps you are not looking for a discussion at all?

  42. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:06 pm

    Modulated fish farting perhaps?

  43. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Oh very mature

  44. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Hey mazeedt, questioning your logic is an insult? I’m not the first to do it since you started papering the blog with non-evidential claptrap.
    Try presenting some supporting facts with those off the wall opinions or get used to what you’re wont to call insulting.

  45. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:34 pm

    Non evidential ey?

    How about we turn it around, how about you present some hard facts to support your view. Because, you know, apart from: I have this friend and he “knows his stuff” I haven’t heard much from you either.
    If in fact you can even identify exactly how our views differ, because you know what? It is difficult when we disagree about the most basic foundations of the argument, what we are arguing about. I agree with you that language developed out of simpler, if you will, music. Simple as that. Did it ever occur to you that I did not attack your well construed argument because you were attacking a straw man?

  46. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:36 pm

    And NO questioning “my logic” is not an insult. But that is NOT what you were doing. I said that basically the only thing that we disagree about is semantics. How much more difficult than that can it get? Can you get that logic into your brain?

  47. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:40 pm

    Because yes, it is an insult and not an argument to insinuate that all I was trying to do with my remark about the semantics of this discussion was to avoid admitting that you were right

  48. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 3:42 pm

    You mean that semantics is not concerned with logic? Alert the dictionaries!

    As to fish farting as a language, check this out:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcwCYIfm6eA

  49. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Have you made any splendid arguments why all that we agree about is not semantics?

  50. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    Because if so I missed it

  51. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 3:46 pm

    amazing…
    kind of creepy though

  52. mazeedton 23 Jul 2010 at 4:24 pm

    Let us look at an example

    “The assumption that ‘man learned to appreciate music’ is a premise that I don’t happen to agree with. The presumption that I’ve found to prevail among evolutions is that it was man’s appreciation of his musical facility that contributed to the evolution of his language. Feel free to disagree but don’t assume that I assumed the opposite.”

    I did not mean that man literally “learned” to appreciate music. What I meant was that one would have to show that “what developed into man” first communicated via sound without that communication conveying any emotional information and that once “man” “was able to appreciate music” the communication did convey emotional information for the sentence:

    “… language would not be all that good at “invoking” emotions if it hadn’t been for music “teaching” us earlier how to do so.

    to be definitely right

    of course it does not make sense with the way that you defined music and language

    see what I am talking about?

  53. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 4:37 pm

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0bOmUQEFu1k

  54. BillyJoe7on 23 Jul 2010 at 5:45 pm

    It is about semantics.
    This is why in my first post supporting bartW I used scare quotes around “tones” and “music”.
    Mazeedt is onto that.
    Bindle is still avoiding catching up.

  55. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 6:49 pm

    Semantics is about logic. Your scare quotes represent a meaningless equivocation.

  56. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 6:52 pm

    “Bindle is still avoiding catching up.” Sounds like a personal insult to me. You want to get it on again, you duplicitous SOB?

  57. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 8:30 pm

    @mazeedt
    “What I meant was that one would have to show that “what developed into man” first communicated via sound without that communication conveying any emotional information”
    If that’s what you meant, then that’s what you should have said, because you’ve changed the logical structure as well as how emotional information should be defined.
    As Damaso explains, animal emotions involve instinctive reasoning that gives rise to feelings. And as I noted earlier, our “language has retained musical tones specifically to denote feelings that the emotional brain produces.” Yet if you refer instead to “what developed into man,” you can go back to where there were no emotional brains extant – yet the equivalent of musical tones had already become the sonic means that communicative organisms had at their disposal.
    Look it up if you don’t believe me, but if you want to say I’m wrong without that, be my guest.
    My only motive in posting here is to offer information that I’ve found to be correct. I have no hidden agenda, no prescient dogma that requires the avoidance of reality.
    But when some fool like BillyJoe7 tries to pick a fight to avenge some litany of past defeats, then attempts at any further rational discussion become pointless.

  58. bindleon 23 Jul 2010 at 9:12 pm

    That should have been Damasio, as in Antonio Damasio, author of The Feeling of What Happens.

  59. ccbowerson 24 Jul 2010 at 1:50 am

    “Semantics is about logic. Your scare quotes represent a meaningless equivocation.”

    Actually semantics is about meaning. I’m sure that you know what he meant – that we are arguing more about the meanings of words than actual ideas. You are just picking a fight as usual, which you will lose and declare yourself a winner. I’ve seen this one before. *Yawn*

  60. bindleon 24 Jul 2010 at 2:39 am

    semantics |səˈmantiks|
    plural noun [usu. treated as sing. ]
    the branch of linguistics and logic concerned with meaning. There are a number of branches and subbranches of semantics, including formal semantics, which studies the logical aspects of meaning, such as sense, reference, implication, and logical form, lexical semantics, which studies word meanings and word relations, and conceptual semantics, which studies the cognitive structure of meaning.

    Can you read and understand that, Bowers? “Logic concerned with meaning.” “The logical aspects of meaning.” “Logical form.”
    You’re another one that’s turned to personal insults on this thread when no-one insulted you.
    Want to make this personal? Here’s my favorite ccbowersism:
    “Purpose is a quality that you attribute to an entity or idea by looking at the outcome, and is not something intrinsic to that entity or idea.” ccbowers.
    And I’ve got much much more if that’s how you want to play it.
    Your comments here have met your usual standards of banality and simple mindedness. Which I did not intend to mention until you joined your fellow fool here with the usual insults that substitute for logic, evidence or even common sense.
    You and BJ have picked this fight together, so let’s see how it goes.

  61. mazeedton 24 Jul 2010 at 6:16 am

    BJ? I have no wish to fight you bindle
    Your last post adressed to me was quite reasonable
    It also shows what we disagreed about. The specific meaning of music and language/speech in the context of this discussion

  62. bindleon 24 Jul 2010 at 11:15 am

    mazeedt, BJ referred to BillyJoe7, who teams up with ccbowers as fellow determinists who don’t believe that we or any other biological entity can find some purposes in their lives independent from those that nature predetermined for them. They believe that although we have choice making functions, it’s merely an illusion that we are making them independently of the purposes