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Freestyle rap activates neural network, increases brain activity (VIDEO)


A new study found that freestyle rapping increased brain activity and activated a complex neural network.


Guillaume Baptiste

Freestyle rap has been linked with increased brain activity both in the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

Researchers at the Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) hooked freestyle rap artists up to fMRI machines to test how their brains worked while improvising rhymes with a beat.

The study used 12 male rappers with at least five years experience.

The rappers were subjected to brain scans while they performed certain activities.

First, the researchers made them improvise lyrics over a simple beat - what is called "freestyling."

Then the participants were made to rap to rehearsed lyrics they had memorized earlier.

The idea was to discover how the brain performed under these two different scenarios, said Ars Technica.

While the participants used freestyle, scientists noted that brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC), a brain region responsible for motivation of thought and action, increased but activity in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) region saw a decrease in activity, said Discovery.

The DLPFC is therefore muted, allowing the creative thought and action to flow without hindrance.

"Like an experienced parent who knows when to lay down the law and when to look the other way, these shifts in brain function may facilitate the free expression of thoughts and words without the usual neural constraints," the authors wrote in a statement.

In short, the rappers just do, rather than consider.

The findings were not mimicked when the rappers switched to rehearsed lyrics.

The researchers also saw activity switching from the left to right hemisphere depending on where they were in the song, possibly representing creativity versus the constraints of rhyming.

Earlier tests found that those who participated in the study akso had highly developed linguistic skills.

The research was simply exploratory but researchers did acknowledge that more studies should be done looking into the subconscious state the rappers enter and how it affects creativity.