Would You Buy A Ticket To A Neuroconcert?


Would you like your mind read during a concert?

Would you like to see the mind of the artist during the show?

I’ve wondered about this before when I pondered the topic of pre-concerts. But now I’d like to focus on something that involves experiencing a show in MRI real time. After I did the post about pre-concerts I saw this 60 Minutes story called “Reading the Mind.”

The 60 Minutes story brings up fascinating and controversial topics of using MRI to read people’s minds. It discusses uses like neuromarketing where brands using MRI to understand the mind of consumers.

I’m not quite sure what I think about reading the minds of consumer to build a brand, but when it comes to live concerts the thought of real time MRI sent my mind reeling with possibilities.

Would real time MRI allow us to explore the depth of the emotion experienced during live concerts? Would we be able to have a deeper understanding of the emotional trajectory of the as we change and evolve emotionally over the course of a show?

If we were able to have real time MRI at concert I would call them neuroconcerts; Concerts were both fans and artist minds are read and shared for artistic and communal purposes, to better understand why we love concerts so much and what makes the whole experience so wonderful, or a complete disappointment.

Many Places in the Brain
In the 60 minutes story, the doctors used the MRI to engage in a process they called “Thought Identification” and they pointed out that thoughts are formed and processed “in many places in the brain

If that’s the case, then what does the brain use to create or represent musical pleasure during a live show? A deeply rooted emotional connection to a song that we experience live that we’ve listened to a hundred times on record?

And what would a real-time MRI look like if you were to take a snapshot of our brain during our most favorite and memorable concert experiences?

Cognitive vs. Behavioral

Knowing the basics of cognitive development, behavioral psychology and neuropsychology I wonder if the brain scan of a rock critic or veteran live music fan who’s been to hundreds of shows, would look different from that of a fan who’s attending a show  for the first time? 

Most  likely, yes, I would expect there to be some differences. But what would those compared real time MRI brain scans tell us about the varying levels of pleasure experienced during a show by each individual fan or critic? Would we be able to realize what parts of a show are most important to us? If so, would this help bands put on better shows? Would this help fans get more out of the shows we go to?

Maybe this is why genres and sub-genres exist and continue to grow deeper? Because our brains get conditioned over time to a certain type of music, it might be too big of a leap for a metal fan to go to a hip hop concert. I might have accepted this thought easier maybe ten or fifteen years ago but I don’t so much anymore because of the extreme blending of music fan’s taste and the rise of the summer music festival and its role as a super-exposing genre-blender of music styles to the live music fan.

I think our brains are adapting gradually, so gradual in fact, that we probably don’t realize the change day to day, but only over a longer span of time. And I think we’re in the midst of a  great period of adaption and neuro-musicological evolution in today’s music and concertgoing culture.

Neuroconcerts = Better Live Music Experience?
So, does this development help improve our concertgoing experiences?  And what exactly is the possibility of actually having actual neuroconcerts? And what would be the possibilities?

If you could get real-time MRI scans of brains, what would it look and feel like to see an image of the artist on a screen during the show as they performed? What would the artist do if they could see the collective image of fans or individual scans of selected fans?

Yes, there are major ethical concerns for this whole topic and we can discuss those in a later post if you like, but what I’m getting at here is for us to have a deeper understanding of how our brains process the beats, rhythms and lyrics and emotional surges that make concerts so pleasurable.

If real-time MRI and neuroconcerts are something that aren’t too far away—the interviewed doctors said about five years for full development—how does that make you feel?  Would you allow yourself to be a subject for such an experiment, if it meant revolutionizing the live concert experience?

Photo: Colleen Catania  MRI design:  Scully7491

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