Scientists Study Blind Pianist's Brain To Understand His 'remarkable' Skills

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Scientists studied Mathew's brain in a series of MRI while he performed on a mini keyboard on his lap as they ran auditory tests on him.

Written By Zaini Majeed | Mumbai | Updated On:

A blind jazz pianist, Mathew Whitaker, is so skilled at playing music that scientists are reportedly studying his brain to figure out his mastery at the instrument. A surgeon and neuroscientist named Limb who specializes in studying MRI brain scans, observed Mathew’s brain scans to discover how the pianist’s brain worked in improvising tunes, suggest reports.

Born prematurely with mounting health issues, the 18-year-old did not step away from pursuing his dream of becoming a world-travelling musician. He intrigued the scientists when he was working for Dalia Sakas, the director of music studies at the Filomen M. D’Agostino Greenberg Music School in New York City, as per the media reports.

Sakas told media that it was insane how Mathew could listen to a piece of music once and then play it on his instrument. She said that it was frightening to play an influential role in such a musician’s life. It was scary more than exhausting because one did not want to ruin it for him, for someone of his talent, creativity, and enthusiasm, she added.


A post shared by Matthew Whitaker 😎 (@_mattwhitaker) on

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According to the reports, Mathew’s parents Moses and May Whitaker revealed that their son suffered from retinopathy of prematurity. American Association for Pediatric Ophthalmology and Strabismus describes in public research that the disease was caused by abnormal development of retinal blood vessels in premature babies that could lead to blindness. Mathew has had 11 surgeries in 2 years, Whitakers told the international media.

Scientists ran auditory tests on Mathew

Scientists studied Mathew's brain in a series of MRI at the University of California, San Francisco while he performed on a mini keyboard on his lap as they ran auditory tests on him, stated reports. They observed the pianist’s brain levels as he played different tunes on the instruments.

Limb, the lead surgeon told the media that it was remarkable how Mathew’s entire brain was stimulated by music. He said that upon observing Mathew’s visual cortex, scientists figured that his brain chemicals change with music that appears recognizable to him. He further elaborated that Mathew’s visual cortex in the brain takes over tissues that stimulated sight, it's like his visual cortex was hyperactivated, Limb said.

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