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Chicken Eggs as Drug Factories
Where Have All the Bees Gone?
Flush-Free Fertilizer
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Poison Dart Frogs
Tree Frogs
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Ant Invasions Change the Rules
Spotting the World's Leggiest Animal
Little Bee Brains That Could
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Baby Talk
Baby Number Whizzes
Making Sense of Scents
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Quails
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Condors
Chemistry and Materials
The hungry blob at the edge of the universe
Big Machine Reveals Small Worlds
Screaming for Ice Cream
Computers
New twists for phantom limbs
It's a Small E-mail World After All
Galaxies far, far, far away
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Hall of Dinos
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Have shell, will travel
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E Learning in Jamaica WIN PRIZES and try our Fun Animated Games
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Earth
Groundwater and the Water Cycle
Slower Growth, Greater Warmth
A Dire Shortage of Water
Environment
When Fungi and Algae Marry
A Newspaper's Hidden Cost
Acid Snails
Finding the Past
The Puzzle of Ancient Mariners
Of Lice and Old Clothes
A Plankhouse Past
Fish
Tuna
Nurse Sharks
Freshwater Fish
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The Essence of Celery
Eat Out, Eat Smart
Sponges' secret weapon
GSAT English Rules
Finding Subjects and Verbs
Order of Adjectives
Adjectives and Adverbs
GSAT Exam Preparation Jamaica
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GSAT Mathematics
Deep-space dancers
10 Common Mistakes When Preparing for the GSAT Math Test
Secrets of an Ancient Computer
Human Body
Kids now getting 'adult' disease
Remembering Facts and Feelings
A Long Haul
Invertebrates
Dust Mites
Earthworms
Black Widow spiders
Mammals
Domestic Shorthairs
Chimpanzees
Black Bear
Parents
Raise a Lifelong Reader by Reading Aloud
What Not to Say to Emerging Readers
Children and Media
Physics
Strange Universe: The Stuff of Darkness
Electric Backpack
The Pressure of Scuba Diving
Plants
Nature's Alphabet
Plants Travel Wind Highways
Farms sprout in cities
Reptiles
Iguanas
Gila Monsters
Snapping Turtles
Space and Astronomy
A Galaxy Far, Far, Far Away
Evidence of a Wet Mars
A Star's Belt of Dust and Rocks
Technology and Engineering
Crime Lab
Roll-Up Computer Monitors to Go
Sugar Power for Cell Phones
The Parts of Speech
What is a Verb?
Pronouns
What is a Noun
Transportation
How to Fly Like a Bat
Robots on the Road, Again
Morphing a Wing to Save Fuel
Weather
Science loses out when ice caps melt
Weekend Weather Really Is Different
The Best Defense Is a Good Snow Fence
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Music in the Brain

Music inspires many people, including scientists. For instance, two researchers recently looked at the brains of jazz musicians. They were interested in what happened when musical performers spontaneously invent musical passages. Making up music is known as improvisation. It's quite different from performing the notes written on a page, which is what most non-jazz performers do. Six professional jazz pianists agreed to have their heads scanned by a team of researchers from Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore and the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in Bethesda, Md. The musicians laid inside a large, tube-shaped machine called a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device. The machine records blood flow. So when someone inside of it does or thinks about something, scientists can see which parts of the brain are working hardest. Inside the fMRI device, the musicians propped a plastic piano keyboard on their laps. In one exercise, they played the notes of a scale in order. Then, they used the same notes to improvise a song. In another exercise, the musicians memorized a jazz composition and then played it while lying in the fMRI device. As they played, they listened to a recording of other instruments playing the accompanying parts. Then, the musicians improvised while listening to the same background music. Results from both exercises showed that the brain behaved in a particular way during improvisation. There was extra activity in a part of the brain that has been linked with the ability to tell a story about yourself. At the same time, there was less activity in the part of the brain that has been linked to planning and controlling behavior. Both parts are located near the front of the brain. "What we think is happening is that when you're telling your own musical story, you're shutting down [brain cell] impulses that might impede the flow of novel ideas," says Charles J. Limb, one of the researchers. He is a trained jazz saxophonist himself. Improvisation is an important skill in creative pursuits. So next, the researchers plan to look for similar activity in the brains of poets, painters, and other artists.—Emily Sohn

Music in the Brain
Music in the Brain








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