Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Heart of the Family - Introduction

I recently had the privilege of attending a workshop led by Andrew Pudewa, founder of the Institute for Excellence in Writing ( He was giving a talk on the profound influence of music on life and referenced some very interesting scientific experiments done on lab rats.

In one of these experiments, three sets of lab rats were placed in controlled environments where the only difference between each environment was exposure to specific music. The first set of rats, the control group, listened to nothing at all. The second set was subject to sophisticated classical music. The third set listened to repetitive ‘minimalist’ music (i.e. African ritualistic drum beats). The results blew me away.

Each set of rats was placed in a maze and timed. Essentially they were running a ‘rat-race’. All three groups showed similar abilities during the initial run. But this soon changed. The rats exposed to Mozart music from before birth to 60 days old were able to learn the mazes over twice as fast as those with no music, whereas rats exposed to repetitive ‘minimalist’ music not only stopped improving their run time, they actually got worse! Their run times increased to the point of doubling and even tripling their initial timed run. Worse yet, these very same rats brought a surprising halt to the entire experiment because they started killing each other!

What in the world was going on here? Mr. Pudewa continued presenting research data that explained. In a separate experiment, he showed how mice exposed to Strauss waltzes showed increased and orderly neuron development, while those exposed to ‘disharmonic’ non-synchronized drum beats showed erratic and pathological growth of neurons . What this means is that those mice that were exposed to sophisticated, orderly music developed a sophisticated, orderly brain. On the other hand, the mice that were exposed to disharmonic non-synchronized drum beats developed a disorderly, erratic brain. In short, the first group got smarter and the second group got dumber…even to the point of developing aggression and hostility towards themselves and others....

More to come. I'll ask for feedback after the conclusion of the intro. Thanks for taking the time to read.

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