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Johns Hopkins Health - All Jazzed Up

Summer 2008
Issue No. 1

All Jazzed Up

Date: July 24, 2008


Want to turn up the creativity and spontaneity in your brain? Try closing your eyes and doing some improv on a keyboard—or any musical instrument that’s handy.

A recent Johns Hopkins study showed that when jazz musicians improvise, their brains turn off areas linked to self-censoring and inhibition and turn on those that let self-expression flow.

Although lots of studies have focused on what happens to people’s brains when they’re listening to music, few have looked at brain activity while people are spontaneously composing it.

“Without this type of creativity, humans wouldn’t have advanced as a species,” says Charles Limb, M.D., assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and a trained jazz saxophonist himself. “It’s an integral part of who we are.”

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