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Music Science

Secrets of Beatboxing Revealed By MRI 49

united_notions writes "An international team from UCSD and Philips Research have published a paper (article paywalled; extensive free related resources at UCS here) in the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, showing the results of real-time magnetic resonance imaging conducted on a beatboxing performer. The authors make interesting comparisons to sounds in many minority languages around the world (such as the 'click' consonants in many African languages); they also show how beatboxing sounds can be represented using the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)."
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Secrets of Beatboxing Revealed By MRI

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  • Looks like these researchers landed on that weird part of YouTube again.
  • by mwessel ( 1759812 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:45AM (#44284433)
    They use an mri machine for this? They charge patients 11k for it's use when they're sick.
    • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @10:54AM (#44284531) Homepage

      So they should stop all forms of research until there are no sick people left? I'm sure they're not bumping critical patients to do this work.

      Sometimes in the process of learning how some of these things work, you can stumble on ways to help with other things.

      • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

        No, he said that we should stop forms of research that cost a lot and produces no gains in economy, well-being or knowledge. While collecting random data can sometimes prove to be useful, concentrated research is far more efficient.

    • They do the scans on Sunday night when they are no patients ( I've been a subject in other experiments). But apart from that, if you think that there's no medical value to this research, you need to sit back and do something that enhances your imagination. They've also studied how cancer patients swallow. Besides the vocal tract, the heart is another organ that needs real time mri, so it's no gimmick. Also this research was from USC, not UCSD.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I once worked in a medical research center where they had a MRI machine, as well as a CT scanner. The funny thing is that a MRI has to be always powered on, so they were always looking for uses, because it was going to use energy whether you used it or not. For example, several coworkers that needed a scan had them done at the center and then transferred to the hospital, on the condition that the center would keep a copy of the data for future use.

    • I'm fairly sure that the actual cost for an MRI is nowhere near 11k.

      • by Holi ( 250190 )

        No, I am pretty sure it is a tad bit higher.

        • Firstly, what patients are charged and what it actually costs are two very different things. Secondly, there are a lot of scanners out there, and plenty of them are there for research purposes. Their presence is due to funding from research organisations and their running costs are funded from research organisations. The reason we have real-time MRI and fMRI is because of people doing pure research. Both of these techniques have clinical applications. It is because of this pure research (which you are rubb
          • by Jahta ( 1141213 )

            Firstly, what patients are charged and what it actually costs are two very different things. Secondly, there are a lot of scanners out there, and plenty of them are there for research purposes. Their presence is due to funding from research organisations and their running costs are funded from research organisations. The reason we have real-time MRI and fMRI is because of people doing pure research. Both of these techniques have clinical applications. It is because of this pure research (which you are rubbishing) that partients have access to MRI in the first place.

            I don't think anybody could reasonably object to research. It clearly has an important role.

            The issue is more whether, in patient care scenarios, you choose to operate your MRI as a profit centre or not. There are many countries whose medical systems give people who are ill access to MRI scanners, and other diagnostic technologies, without charging them extortionate fees for their use.

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      And they charge patients $400 for an aspirin. Actual costs have nothing to do with what a hospital bills.

  • Sometimes I think that the world can stand for a little mystery...
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_gOwFjyl8Zg [youtube.com]

    A good example of the genre.

  • Editing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bgeezus ( 1252178 ) on Monday July 15, 2013 @11:12AM (#44284749)
    Note: USC is not the same thing as UCSD is not the same thing as UCS... But for all you naysayers, keep in mind that there is a tremendous amount we don't understand about the way humans produce sound. By studying the fundamental mechanisms behind human speech production, we can gain insight into that process, and can understand more accurately what happens when things go wrong.
  • I didn't even know that people cared about "beatboxing". What's next, revealing the secrets of twerking and queefing?

  • Science might progress faster and cost less if it wasn't conducted by people clueless about their bodies. Everything they discovered is already known by anybody with beat-boxing and linguistic skills. Bring back the introspectionists I say, cheaper than MRI!
    • Science might progress faster and cost less if it wasn't conducted by people clueless about their bodies. Everything they discovered is already known by anybody with beat-boxing and linguistic skills. Bring back the introspectionists I say, cheaper than MRI!

      Actually, people's impressions about what they're doing with their bodies (in terms of speech production) is often not actually what is physiologically happening. Other times, it's very difficult--if not impossible--for the subject to tell what is happening, much less describe it accurately. That's why it's useful to use MRI or other techniques like they did in this study. (Trust me, I'm a linguist?)

      • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )

        (Trust me, I'm a linguist?)

        Is that a question?

        That's a good reason not to trust you. People frequently study the things they don't intuitively grasp.

        Introspectionists are trained to be aware of what's happening in their bodies. That or use well trained autists. Being well versed in echolalia and ipa, saw no surprises with the beatbox stuff. Not being a good singer, I did find the different types of vibrato interesting. Natural talents are usually useless for explaining what is going, those who have had to struggle and train the

  • Rather you than me frankly.
  • I'm told I do decently enough at beatboxing. I don't speak the languages mentioned in the article, but my big secret has always been to reduce each sound to a pronounceable syllable. Then it's just talking in meter, even if what you're saying is nonsense.

  • We solved that mystery just in time for 1988.
  • Oopsy... both 'UCSD' and 'UCS' should be replaced with 'USC' (i.e. University of Southern California). That'll teach me for concentrating on the HTML.
  • about the singularity!
  • I love science. They take the MRI off 1 person who was beatboxing and now secrets are revealed? What happened to studying a bunch of beat boxers with MRI's and studying the result of all the tests?

    What if this beat boxer is a special person, has a brain unlike anyone elses in the world? How do we know what is normal from this study?

    Beatboxers are NOT rare, so why study just 1?

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