Wednesday, June 22, 2011

An Interesting 'Teen Brain' post

From the June 22, 2011 STrib:

Teens' brains bop to an odd beat

  • Article by: AMINA KHAN , Los Angeles Times
  • Updated: June 21, 2011 - 10:50 PM
Scans of their neurological activity -- done for an unrelated study -- predicted whether a pop song became a hit.

Can the teen brain identify chart-topping pop music hits before a big-shot producer ever could?
Perhaps, according to a study published recently by the Journal of Consumer Psychology. Almost by accident, research by Emory University scientists showed that adolescents' brain activity could potentially predict a song's ultimate success or failure.
In 2006, Emory neuroeconomist Gregory Berns had 27 teens listen to 120 songs that were by relatively unknown artists, and measured the teens' brain activity. He intended to measure how peer pressure affects teens' opinions. But three years later, Berns heard one of the songs, One Republic's "Apologize," and it had become a hit.
Researchers already knew that brain activity in the orbitofrontal cortex and ventral striatum could generally predict a person's choices. But could it also predict whether other people -- whose brains were not scanned -- would decide to buy that music? Could a few teens' brain activity predict a song's eventual popularity?
To find out, researchers looked at sales figures for the original 27 songs and compared them with the brain reactions they'd elicited. Teens' brain scans predicted 90 percent of the dud songs and predicted the songs that made it over the 20,000 sales mark about a third of the time.
Oddly, the teens' brains were better at predicting a song's success than the teens were. When they were asked to rate the songs, their rankings didn't correlate with the songs' popularity at all.

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