American researchers say contact with rhythm may help people with neurological diseases lead a better life. The researchers reported the finding after they carried out experiments with a famous rock and roll musician. Scientists say timing has a major influence on how the human brain works. And when the timing is off, so is the processing of information.
The new study was the work of researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. They examined the brain of Mickey Hart. He is a former member of the rock group The Grateful Dead. For the study, he was asked to play electronic drums as part of a computer game. The experiments combined neuroscience with modern technology, gaming and the virtual world.
Mickey Hart wore sensor devices on his head as he played the drums. In another room, scientists watched how his brain reacted to the orderly beat or rhythm. They watched how his eyes moved. They measured changes in his blood flow and body temperature. All this information showed his brain's activity in real time. Mickey Hart is interested in knowing how his brain, what he calls the "Master Clock," works. He has also has been interested for years in the power of music.
In the 1980s, he used music to connect with his grandmother who was suffering from Alzheimer's disease. She had not spoken in a year. When he played the drums, she spoke his name and started talking again. Scientists say their goal is to use rhythm training and even video games to improve brain function. They believe that when the brain operates correctly, people enjoy a better quality of life.