MESSAGE IN A BRAIN SCAN: UCSB Neurologist Scott Grafton Scans the Brain of Rock Star Sting


What does the 1960s Beatles hit “Girl” have in common with Astor Piazolla’s evocative tango composition “Libertango”?

To the casual listener, probably not much. But in the mind of one famously eclectic singer-songwriter, the two songs are highly similar. That’s one of the surprising findings of an unusual neuroscience study based on brain scans of the musician Sting.

Imaging analysis techniques recently developed by UC Santa Barbara neurologist Scott Grafton provided a window into the mind of this masterful musician and Police front man. These state-of the-art methods allowed Grafton and neuroscientist Daniel Levitin, a cognitive psychologist at McGill University, to make maps of how Sting’s brain organizes music. According to lead author Levitin, great musicianship lies in the ability to manipulate in one’s mind rich representations of the desired soundscape. The researchers’ findings appear in the journal Neurocase.


Sting looks at his brain scans at McGill University’s Montreal Neurological Institute. Photo Credit: OWEN EGAN

News Date: 

Monday, August 15, 2016