Why do we like to sing soppy love songs to our loved one? What is it about them that evokes a mood of affinity and bonding? Why do tears spring to our eyes when we hear a lyric that reminds us of a friendship, relationship or other close bond?
The composition and interpretation of music through song, dance, and playing a musical instrument, are complex and high-level tasks of the creative brain. Indeed, the ‘creative’ aspects of personality are thought to constitute a particular division of intelligence in itself. Although it is possible to gain a certain level of proficiency in playing the works of Beethoven and Mozart through social and/or environmental factors (parental support, music school), the phenomenon of the child prodigy does in fact suggest an innate genetic basis for talent. Creativity itself is a complex process that draws largely from areas of the right hemisphere, not activating the frontal lobes or cortices very much. And since we are talking mainly of cognitive processes,we can expect hormones such as arginine vasopressin (AVP), which helps to control higher functions such as memory and learning, to take a lead role. Given that this hormone is mediated by the AVP receptor 1A (AVPR1A) gene, that affects many behavioural, social and emotional traits such as male aggression, pair bonding, altruism, parenting, sibling relationships, love etc., it stands to reason that this key gene is the one to watch.
An interesting study. People with music skills score higher on creativity tests and appear to have a greater chance of having a specific set of genes. And it appears that creativity is a heritable feature. These are some things to keep an eye on in the coming years.