Spontaneous Neuronal Signaling is Inherently Musical and Mathematical: Insight into the Universal Human Affinity for Music

Thomas B. Shea1, *, Ruth Remington2
1 Department of Biological Sciences, UMass Lowell, Lowell, MA 01821, USA
2 Department of Nursing, Framingham State University, Framingham, MA, USA

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Creative Commons License
© 2018 Shea and Remington.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Biological Sciences, UMass Lowell, Lowell MA 01821, USA; Tel: 978-934-2881; E-mail:



Audio files of spontaneous signal streams generated by ex vivo neuronal networks cultured on multi-electrode arrays generated an oscillating sine wave with an inherent musical quality. This was not anticipated considering that synaptic signals are “all - or – none”, and therefore digital, events.


These findings may provide insight into why music can be perceived as pleasurable and invoke a calm mood despite that music is ultimately perceived and stored as a series of digital signals; it is speculated that music may reinforce and/or enhance this spontaneous digital stream.

Results and Conclusion:

These findings also support the relationship between music and mathematics.

Keywords: Multi-electrode array, Neurons, Music, Signaling, Binary, Inhibitory.