Podcast Transcript: Mozart was a genius. Duke Ellington, genius. Ringo Starr? Well, Ringo may be smarter than you think. Because a new study from Stockholm shows that people who can keep a beat score the highest on intelligence tests. The researchers asked 34 men to listen to a recording and then tap out the beat using a single drumstick. When the music stopped, the guys kept drumming, and they were scored by how closely they were able to maintain the original rhythm.
After their drum solos, the subjects traded their sticks for pencils and took a standardized intelligence test. The guys who had the steadiest rhythm also nailed the written exam.
What that means is hard to say. All of our actions, whether we’re making music or solving equations, are governed by the rhythmic activity of nerve cells in the brain. So the scientists think that a keen sense of timing and a penchant for problem solving might come from having well coordinated brain cell activity. While sloppy drumming and sloppy thinking come from brain cells that are slightly out of synch. As for Ringo [lyric: “you know it don’t come easy”].