Anyone who’s ever been in a band will tell you the same thing—drummers, man. It doesn’t matter how talented or trained they might be, reigning in those fills and trying to keep the kit-man or woman on pace can sometimes feel impossible, leaving most musicians to feel like drummers are a totally different breed.
Turns out that’s probably true, just not in the way you might be thinking. According to a Swedish study, drummers’ brains work differently than most, but not because they’re stubborn or erratic. According to the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, drummers possess uncanny problem solving skills, a correlation between the parts of the brain that handle problem-solving and rhythmic timing.
Drummers were told to play a steady beat while solving a 60-question intelligence test, and those that had the best answers also kept the beat on pace.
“The rhythmic accuracy in brain activity that is observed when a person maintains a steady beat is also important to the problem-solving capacities measured with the intelligence tests,” said Professor Frederic Ullen to the Telegraph.
But it goes even further than that. PolicyMic highlights a Stanford study that showed a steady beat can transfer that intelligence onto others, citing a University of Washington experiment that saw psychology students’ grades improve after their professor used rhythmic light and sound therapy in his teachings.
Another study at the University of Texas found that similar treatments on younger students had similar results to Ritalin, an almost calming, focusing effect that yielded permanent plusses to the test students’ IQ scores.
In essence, the findings are that the brain is almost metronomic; that perhaps working at a steady pace is the solution to better results. Think the Mozart effect but for Neil Peart fans.
Drummers are different, but is it Pavlovian, or biological? Are people born to be behind the kit, or does this evolve naturally?