Rock producer-turned-psychology professor Daniel Levitin researches how the human brain responds to music. At McGill University in Canada, he runs the Laboratory for Music Perception, Cognition, and Expertise. Levitin's new book, This Is Your Brain on Music: The Science of a Human Obsession, sounds fascinating. From an interview in Wired News:
Wired News: Are there any myths about music that neuroscientists have exposed?Link (via Mind Hacks)
Daniel Levitin: I think we've debunked the myth of talent. It doesn't appear that there's anything like a music gene or center in the brain that Stevie Wonder has that nobody else has.
There's no evidence that (talented people) have a different brain structure or different wiring than the rest of us initially, although we do know that becoming an expert in anything -- like chess or race-car driving or journalism -- does change the brain and creates circuitry that's more efficient at doing what you're an expert at.
What there might be is a genetic or neural predisposition toward things like patience and eye-hand coordination. (On the other hand), you can be born with a physiology that gives you a pleasant-sounding voice, but that doesn't guarantee you'll have a career as a singer.