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Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut

Scary Music Is Scarier With Your Eyes Shut

BrainThe power of the imagination is well-known: it's no surprise that scary music is scarier with your eyes closed.

But now neuroscientist and psychiatrist Prof. Talma Hendler of Tel Aviv University's Functional Brain Center says that this phenomenon may open the door to a new way of treating people with Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and other neurological diseases.

In her new study, Prof. Hendler found that the simple act of voluntarily closing one's eyes - instead of listening to music and sounds in the dark - can elicit more intense physical responses in the brain itself.

This finding may have therapeutic value in treating people with brain disorders. Her research was just published in PLoS One and builds on her 2007 study published in Cerebral Cortex.

Prof. Hendler's research suggests that, when our eyes are closed, a region in our brain called the amygdala is fired up. The experience of scary music becomes more emotionally and physically intense. And the converse of the scary music effect may be true: happy music could produce a joyous effect when our eyes are shut as well.

Listening to sounds with our eyes closed seems to wire together a direct connection to the regions of our brains that process emotions, says Prof. Hendler. "Music is a relatively abstract emotional carrier," says Prof. Hendler.

"It can easily take one's subjective personal experience and manipulate it. Our new findings, however, suggest that the effect is not only subjective. Using a functional MRI (fMRI), we can see that distinct changes in the brain are more pronounced when a person's eyes are not being used."

Source: Tel Aviv University

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