Sunday, 28 February 2016


This is a reaction to an article published in Frontiers in Psychology, 2014 by Joel Krueger. He tried to adapt the ever famous idea of A.Clark's Extended Mind and take it even one step further and present a musically extended mind. Can our mind be musically extended? J. Krueger argues that it can. He explains the reader about music and musical affordances, he also shows how music effects our motoric response, emotions, how it develops affective synchrony and influences our behaviour. The author then continues to show how, in his opinion, music can extend our cognition. Following A. Clark's example, J. Krueger presents people suffering from Moebius syndrome and how  music can help them express their emotions.
In his article J. Krueger first talks about how  music plays a big role in our daily lives and what impact it has on our emotions. He adopts the term 'musical affordances' from ecological psychology, namely, the work of Gibson. Affordances for him are action possibilities that are specified by particular structural features of the environment and the sensorimotor capacities that perceiver employs to respond to these features. He continues explaining how different people respond to the same piece of music in a different way. A waltz for someone can associate with happy, joyous emotions and for someone else it can remind of something sad or melancholic. Therefore, there is a mutuality between perceiver and the environment.
J. Krueger then goes on presenting what music brings out in the people in general. First of all it effects our motoric response, it brings out movement. While response of some people can be very subtle like tapping fingers or nodding heads to the rhythm, in others it can bring out a vivid dance routine. Music affords unique responsive movements in a way most other environmental sounds do not.
Apart from movement, it also brings out entrainment which occurs when two or more oscillatory processes are synchronised with each other. According to J. Krueger, musical entrainment occurs via the behavioural coordination resulting from individual's response to rhythmic signals. Another key feature relevant to the entrainment is affective synchrony which refers to sharing of the feelings that emerge when individuals entrain their movements together by listening to music or performing it.
Because music and musical affordances grant people access to various experiences, J, Krueger continues developing his idea and presenting music as a way to extend our cognition. He states that in the same way that notebook serves Otto as his short term memory, music plays role that gives us a way to feel different emotions that otherwise would have been inaccessible. He goes on explaining that within the context of musical performance, the agent and instrument form a coupled system.
Author then continues presenting ways that music effects our daily lives like sharpening and sustaining our attentional focus, providing a calming and relaxing effect thus taking an external regulator's function.
J. Krueger also talks about people suffering from Moebius syndrome, which is a form of bilateral facial paralysis, thus disabling them from expressing their emotions through the face. These people have to use different strategies to express their emotions through talking or gestures, tone of voice, etc. For them musical agency provides surrogate regulative functionality. The same regulatory functionality can have a profound impact on cognitive development and performance of children and young infants as well.
If you want to read the whole article, you can do so by pressing this link .

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