“Drummers are better known for their beats than their brain power, but research has suggested that they might actually be natural intellectuals.
Scientists who asked volunteers to keep time with a drumstick before taking intelligence tests discovered that those with the best sense of rhythm also scored highest in the mental assessments.
Prof Frederic Ullen, from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, concluded that there was a link between intelligence, good timing and the part of the brain used for problem-solving.
He said: ‘The rhythmic accuracy in brain activity that is observed when a person maintains a steady beat is also important to the problem-solving capacities measured with the intelligence tests.’
For the study, Prof Ullen and Guy Madison, from Sweden’s Umea University, asked 34 right-handed men aged between 19 and 49 to tap a drumstick at a variety of different intervals.
They were then given a psychometric test of 60 questions and problems.
Prof Ullen said: ‘We found that people with high general intelligence were also more stable on a very simple timing task.
‘We also found that these participants had larger volumes of the white matter in the brain, which contains connections between brain regions.’
Scans of the brain have shown that it uses a wide distribution of areas to listen to music.
The left side tends to process rhythm and pitch and the right looks after timbre and melody.”