Music can evoke all sorts of emotions in listeners' hearts, and in composers' minds.
Brain-scanning studies of artists being creative - improvising music, rapping or drawing caricatures - showed deactivation in a part of the brain involved in planning and monitoring behavior. Researchers say this is a sign of the "flow state" that frees up creative impulses.
A new study of jazz pianists shows a greater deactivation in that region when they are working on melodies to convey a happy emotion, rather than expressing a sad or negative emotion.
Improvising somber music activates the brain's reward regions, which reinforce behaviors that lead to pleasurable outcomes. That could mean "that people are getting into more of a 'groove,'" according to Malinda McPherson, who led the study. "This indicates there may be different mechanisms for why it's pleasurable to create happy versus sad music."
"The bottom line is that emotion matters," says senior author Charles Limb. The study of the neural intricacies of creativity was published in Scientific Reports.