Drummers are Awesome, Revealing the Science of Synchronized Rhythm

Synchronized Rhythm, Drummers and Synchronized Rhythm, Drumming Beats

Synchronized rhythm is something that every drummer needs and spends his lifetime pursuing. This article explores the remarkable science of synchronized rhythm through the eyes of drummers and offers a practical tip for anyone interested in achieving heart and mind coherence.

In any music concert, drummers are most likely sitting at the back behind other performers. That makes them less popular than lead vocals or guitarists; there is no world where Ringo is more popular than John was. In terms of intelligence, however, the scientific world will give you hard-to-beat argument. Based on scientific studies, drummers actually have advantage over everyone else, not only among fellow performers but also other professions.

When a drummer is in action, the ears and arms naturally pose to the rhythm, and such actions trigger the regions of neural connections. Because the drummer is moving to the beat, the motor cortex is active and it strengthens the connection to the brain. As a result, there is an increase in skills including good timing and synchronized rhythm.

Good Timing and Steady Beat

A study conducted at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm found a link that connects intelligence, good timing, and problem-solving ability in drummers. [1] Among many drummers who joined the study, those who managed to maintain a steady beat also scored the highest in proper intelligence test. A general conclusion of the study suggests that the practice of drumming might have enhanced their brain intellectual powers. According to the scientist who conducted the study, Professor Ullen, people with higher general intelligence are more stable when it comes to simple timing task. The drummers who scored the highest in the test were found to have larger volumes of white matter, which contains connections between regions of the brain.

A steady beat is heard not only by the drummer, but also music listeners. From the perspective of listeners, research also suggest that a shared synchronized rhythm can provide the environmental conditions to enhance the intelligence of others. A study at Stanford University also showed that ambient rhythm can improve cognitive functions of listeners. [2]

Furthermore, University of Oxford psychologist Robin Dunbar found that drumming increases positive emotions and leads to greater efficiency and cooperation. [3]

Heart and Mind Coherence

Beyond these studies, I believe there is complementary research conducted by the HeartMath Institute that suggests that what we feel and think is a two-way communication. The ordered and stable pattern of heart’s input to the brain play a critical role in reinforcing cognitive functions. [4]

To extend this body of scientific research, scientists at the HeartMath Institute have conducted experiments to examine how larger-scale patterns of heart activity affect the brain’s functioning. Interestingly, HeartMath research has shown that distinct patterns of heart activity have meaningful synchronizing effects on cognitive functions.

According to the HeartMath Institute research, “During stress and negative emotions, when the heart rhythm pattern is disordered, the corresponding pattern of neural signals traveling from the heart to the brain inhibits higher cognitive functions. In contrast, the more ordered pattern of the heart’s input to the brain during positive emotional states has the opposite effect—it facilitates cognitive function and reinforces positive expressions.” [4]

The Role of Breathing

Finally, another important distinction involves understanding the role of breathing in the generation of coherence. Physiologically, the coherence state is described by a smooth and consistent heart beat. However, coherence is not relaxation, and it does not necessarily involve a lowering of heart rate, but rather it is primarily described by the heart rhythm pattern.

According to the HeartMath Institute, “Because breathing patterns modulate the heart’s rhythm, it is possible to generate a coherent heart rhythm simply by breathing slowly and regularly at a 10-second rhythm (5 seconds on the in-breath and 5 seconds on the out-breath). This can be a useful intervention to initiate a shift out of stressful emotional state and into increased coherence.”

Exploring the Hearts Intelligence

In the new field of neurocardiology, scientists have discovered that the heart has its own intrinsic nervous system—a network of nerves that some have described as a “heart brain.” With over 40,000 neuron like excitable cells, also called cardiomyocytes, this “little brain” can processes and transmits information through electrical and chemical signals. [5] [6] 

According to the HeartMath Institute, the heart’s magnetic component is about 100 times stronger than the brain’s magnetic field and can be detected several feet away from the body using a Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID)-based magnetometers. [7] While scientist have only started to understand the effects of the electromagnetic fields produced by the heart, there is growing reason to suggest that the information contained in the heart’s powerful field, may play a vital synchronizing role in the human body and that it may affect others around us as well. You can visualize the heart’s electromagnetic fields in a recent article we publish that explores amazing measuring devices: 5 Remarkable Measuring Devices.

Whatever the case may be, finding a steady synchronized rhythm seems to enhance the mind/heart connection and generates coherent emotions. And, even if you do have the time to be a drummer, simple breathing techniques can help you find a synchronized rhythm and that’s surely something that everyone can practice. 

Additional Reading:

Beyond practicing drumming, meditation and the practice of pranayamic breathing has become an important topic of conversation within the context of enhancing one’s genetic expression and intellectual potential. I believe that these practice can be just as important to achieve a healthy synchronized rhythm. Stay tuned for a follow up article on pranayamic breathing.

For now, here’s a great article on the epigenetic effects from meditation: How Mindfulness Meditation Changes Your Genetic Expression


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    By: Honey Goode

    Honey Goode is a Registered Nurse and became an International Yoga Teacher, Project Contributor and Writer at She is currently traveling in South East Asia and exploring the entrepreneurial world while teaching yoga at various fitness gym, studios and private classes. Honey believe in attaining one’s highest potential with the guidance and understanding of the inner philosophy of yoga and mindful meditation.

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