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This is Your Brain on Rap

Freestyle rapping can be a lot of fun. We know it’s hard to make up rhyming lines in real time–that’s why we published a guide to it! But a good freestyle session with a few friends is exhilarating and usually hilarious.

Turns out, freestyling is also good for your brain. Charles Limb is a doctor, musician and researcher. He wanted to know how freestyle rapping differed from rapping something pre-written. So he had someone rap in an MRI machine, first something pre-written and then a freestyle.

The result? Limb found increased activity in the parts of the brain associated with visuals and motor coordination when rappers are freestyling as opposed to when they recite memorized raps.

This video is fascinating. It’s also great for reviewing the scientific method, since Limb talks about how he set up the controls and variables of his study. And unscientifically, kids will love seeing the rapper freestyling in the MRI (at 15:37 in the video).

You can download the original video here.