A new scientific breakthrough has proven that the hills really are alive with the sound of music - or at least the hills that comprise the mysterious road maps of our brains.
M.I.T. researchers Nancy Kanwisher, Josh H. McDermott and Sam Norman-Haignere have uncovered specific parts of the brain that are activated primarily by music -- and not, say, human speech or ambient sound. In fact, according to the findings they published in the journal Neuron, the circuits that "light up" to different kinds of sound are located in completely different parts of the auditory cortex.
In unpacking this groundbreaking study, M.I.T. News explains that by utilizing a new method working with functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), the researchers were able to identify six different neural population response patterns in 10 human subjects who were each played 165 sound clips. In summary, "one population responded most to music, another to speech, and the other four to different acoustic properties such as pitch and frequency."