Strange but true: The musical mind of Sting

What does the 1960s Beatles hit Girl have in common with Astor Piazolla’s tango composition Libertango? Probably not much, to the casual listener – 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 Canadian neuroscience study based on brain scans of the musician, Sting. The paper, published in the journal Neurocase, uses recently developed imaging-analysis techniques to provide a window into the mind of a masterful musician, in a pre-concert experiment. It also represents an approach that could offer insights into how gifted individuals find connections between seemingly disparate thoughts or sounds, in fields ranging from arts to politics or science. Scanning techniques, known as multivoxel pattern analysis and representational dissimilarity analysis, showed which songs…

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