Rap stars’ brains ‘go up a gear’ for ad-libbing

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RAP stars such as Jay Z and Plan B switch their brains up a gear when they ad-lib lyrics, according to a new study.

Researchers found their brain patterns change to a higher level when they “spit” their lyrics “freestyle”.

Scientists discovered rappers have a “unique reallocation” of brain activity allowing them to make up rhymes on the spot.

“Censors” which normally block what the rest of us say are opened up letting them express themselves in ways most of us can’t.

Researchers at the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders in the United States scanned the brains of 12 rappers as they performed two tasks using an identical eight-bar music track.

For the first task, the rappers, who had at least five years experience, freestyled to a beat. In the second they performed a well-rehearsed set of lyrics.

During freestyling, researchers observed increases in brain activity in the medial prefrontal cortex, which controls motivation of thought and action. But activity in the dorsolateral prefrontal region that normally plays a supervisory, or monitoring role, was found to decrease.

Dr Siyuan Liu, who led the study, said: “Like an experienced parent who knows when to lay down the law and when to look the other way, these shifts in brain function may facilitate the free expression of thoughts and words without the usual neural constraints.”

The researchers found activity also increased in the parts of the brain which control language production and emotion during freestyling.

Dr Liu said: “This suggests that improvisation engages a brain network that appears to link motivation, language, mood and action.

“It’s a unique functional reallocation of brain activity.”