People listening to music have peak brain activity between when the music stops and starts again, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have found.
The finding may help scientists understand how the brain sorts through input from the chaotic world around it.
Findings of the research study were published today in the journal Neuron.
People listening to music engage the parts of their brains involved with paying attention, making predictions and updating the event in memory, researchers found.
Scientists used magnetic resonance imaging to see what parts of the brain are working during different activities.
The study used short symphonies from an obscure 18th century composer to capture the attention of the people in the study.
"In a concert setting, for example, different individuals listen to piece of music with wandering attention, but at the transition point between movements, their attention is arrested," said Vinod Menon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and the senior author of the study.
The results of the study "may put us closer to solving the cocktail party problem -- how is it we are able to follow one conversation in a crowded room of many conversations," said one of the co-authors, Daniel Levitin, associate professor of psychology and music at McGill University in Montreal.
Levitin is the author of a book, "This is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession."