Our brain


Well-known member
So...the last thirty years haven't been for nothing. I made sure to forward the link to my wife.
There's a story where Arthur C. Clark introduces a character by saying he "wasn't stupid, he was just slow." Then he describes a character who's quite brilliant, but not a quick thinker. I've always loved that line. (The character ends up saving the day.)
As Gandalf says of a certain character: "He thinks less than he talks, and slower; yet he can see through a brick wall in time."
I think I've posted this before, but that it's good enough for a repeat:

Burkhard Bilger writes:
Early this winter, I joined [David] Eagleman in London for his most recent project: a study of time perception in drummers. Timing studies tend to be performed on groups of random subjects or on patients with brain injuries or disorders. They’ve given us a good sense of average human abilities, but not the extremes: just how precise can a person’s timing be? “In neuroscience, you usually look for animals that are best at something,” Eagleman told me, over dinner at an Italian restaurant in Notting Hill. “If it’s memory, you study songbirds; if it’s olfaction, you look at rats and dogs. If I were studying athletes, I’d want to find the guy who can run a four-minute mile. I wouldn’t want a bunch of chubby high-school kids.”
The idea of studying drummers had come from Brian Eno, the composer, record producer, and former member of the band Roxy Music. Over the years, Eno had worked with U2, David Byrne, David Bowie, and some of the world’s most rhythmically gifted musicians. He owned a studio a few blocks away, in a converted stable on a cobblestoned cul-de-sac, and had sent an e-mail inviting a number of players to participate in Eagleman’s study. “The question is: do drummers have different brains from the rest of us?” Eno said. “Everyone who has ever worked in a band is sure that they do.”
The drummers study was inspired by an anecdote Eno told Eagleman:
“I was working with Larry Mullen, Jr., on one of the U2 albums,” Eno told me. “ ‘All That You Don’t Leave Behind,’ or whatever it’s called.” Mullen was playing drums over a recording of the band and a click track—a computer-generated beat that was meant to keep all the overdubbed parts in synch. In this case, however, Mullen thought that the click track was slightly off: it was a fraction of a beat behind the rest of the band. “I said, ‘No, that can’t be so, Larry,’ ” Eno recalled. “ ‘We’ve all worked to that track, so it must be right.’ But he said, ‘Sorry, I just can’t play to it.’ ”
Eno eventually adjusted the click to Mullen’s satisfaction, but he was just humoring him. It was only later, after the drummer had left, that Eno checked the original track again and realized that Mullen was right: the click was off by six milliseconds. “The thing is,” Eno told me, “when we were adjusting it I once had it two milliseconds to the wrong side of the beat, and he said, ‘No, you’ve got to come back a bit.’ Which I think is absolutely staggering.”
Incidentally, I love the fact that Eno can't remember the name of the album which almost certainly earned him at least a few million dollars.


"Uncle Larry"
Guys, I'm enjoying reading all your well thought out and insightful responses - then there's this vvvvvvvvv
Dammit!! Why didn't I think of that? I should have trashed my shitty tubs & snagged Saturns - I'd have eclipsed Vinnie by now 🤣
Andy I'm not making light of anything, I just could not pass that up lol.

I am so glad you drum. I hope you take lots of time behind the kit, specifically, doing simple 4 way independence beats.

This is a favorite topic of mine, the brain.

It's great that studies are documenting this stuff, it's really inspiring from a practice standpoint. Specifically, working more on 4 way coordination.

The combination of rhythm and timing accuracy...combined with using both halves of the brain...over all four limbs....it's really something how it benefits the brain. Lights it up like Times Square.

My own contribution...I rarely fall. I trip my fair share for sure, but very rarely do I hit the ground lol. I definitely attribute that to quick reflexes and "closer to equal brain capability between brain halves than the average bear" that drumming develops.

Here's another anecdotal tidbit....getting both halves of the brain more equal, by drumming for example, they say it builds and thickens the corpus callosum, which is the thing that coordinates the connections between both hemispheres of the brain.

Einstein had a very large corpus callosum, according to a slew of articles. Pretty cool.


Staff member
Andy I'm not making light of anything, I just could not pass that up lol.
Completely fine by me Larry, & 100% expected ;)
I am so glad you drum. I hope you take lots of time behind the kit, specifically, doing simple 4 way independence beats.
I'm not spending nearly as much time on the kit as I should, but I hope to remedy that early next year as I get my drum room back in order.

I did put a lot of time in as therapy in my recovery period though, and I'm totally convinced that helped a lot.

Interestingly, I've come out the other side a different player - not "better", just different.


Well-known member
Neat article and good timing for me.
For the past couple of months I've been making sure to initiate all of my warm up routine and zone out exercises with my left hand and as a result my entire left side of the body is getting more in the mix in every day life. When I put my pants on, I've randomly started putting left leg in first. I've been holding my fork with the left hand. And this is all completely random and I'm not intentionally doing the silly "if you want your left hand to get better you should start using it for things your right hand normally does." I've tried that nonsense and nothing happened. But when you drill on it for 30-60 minutes every day in repetitive fashion focusing on a single limb you can't ignore the change to the brain that happens.


Gold Member
It probably works playing any instrument, not just drumming.

However I do think that since all 4 limbs are involved it's better than just 2 limbs for the brain plasticity.

Drumming is probably the best musical brain therapy IMO.
I think there might be more to it. Drumming probably requires the most accurate timing as well as lowest latency, perhaps preferring faster connections, as well as encouraging more synchrony. I think reading score for pianists is probably a pretty good brain builder though.

When I want to rattle off code, I put in African djembe music, something about it makes me feel like I can get that extra button in.


New member
The doc said drums had the greatest impact to that timeline. Evidently, the information is well known, but not necessarily officially published.


Gold Member
Corpus collosum is important in sound localization, basically the ears communicate to determine where the sound is from. https://academic.oup.com/brain/article/125/5/1039/328107

Its one of the amazing tricks that brain is able to tell from timings in a sound wave where the sound is coming from. It kind of makes sense in drums because of the accurate timings required. If you think about just where instruments are located will impact the perceived timings, not to mention that drums tend to more spatially oriented as compared to other instruments like guitar or winds that are pretty much a point source.


Gold Member
The study Andy cited must have looked at jazz drummers. Hitting the snare on two and four like I do is a brainless endeavor. All I know is that drumming is very therapeutic—a great stress relief.


Staff member
The study Andy cited must have looked at jazz drummers. Hitting the snare on two and four like I do is a brainless endeavor.
I'm not so sure on that Rich. Maybe because it was the most obvious, but when I first started playing after my stroke, it was micro timing of the absolute basics that immediately jumped out as being skewed. Not only actual drift, but the real time perception of drift too.


Platinum Member
I'd also state that many drummers have a similar thought pattern when it comes to things outside of drumming like troubleshooting things. I find the same goes for dudes who work in IT. There is obviously some differences and people who don't fit the mold but in general I find this to be true.

paradiddle pete

Platinum Member
Drummers hear the rhythm of words so therefor remember what was said , do you ever find yourself quietly thinking to yourself they don't listen to a thing, no retention.


Active member
When I retired, I found, and therefore surmised, that humans needed something to keep the brain going since not doing the same routine pre- retirement. I found that we needed 2 activities two satisfy this need. One small muscle activity, and one large muscle activity. This not based on science but only my own observation. I use drumming for my large muscle activity, and my woodworking hobby for the small muscle activity. There are times when there is a crossover, but mainly this idea works for me. Small keeps your brain functioning on things like design, measuring, planning etc. Large, drumming, keeps you moving most of your body to keep the joints loose. Just my thoughts. Actually, just the thought of this idea kept my grain working.
Since you like both drumming and woodworking, have you tried to make stave drums?

there are a few guys showing how to do this in YouTube.