Petr Janata, a neuroscientist at the UC Davis, just received a $1 million grant to figure out “why listening to music, and achieving that state of being in the musical groove, is such a heady experience.”
“People talk about feeling connected with everything, or that there’s a sense of timelessness or profound joy in both music and spiritual experiences,” says Janata. “You compare those descriptions, whether they’re the same with music as with something else, and then as a neuroscientist, I view the brain mechanism. If I can show the same part of the brain being modulated in these different contexts, then there’s no difference at the neuroscience level, and the experiences are the same, regardless of the language that one lays on it.”
Since The Grateful Dead are no more, Janata plans on using The String Cheese Incident for the study, but their status is in limbo as a member just announced he’ll be leaving the band.
And drugs will be left out of the study:
- “While it’s true a lot of people have profound experiences that are drug-related, it’s not that way for everyone,” says Janata. “You can find lots of people that into the groove purely through the music, with nothing but a bottle of water in their hands.”