Brains get so down.

It’s obvious that listening to music can move your mood any which way; we’ve all known this since we first saw Rafiki hoist Simba upwards to the sky, solidifying the new king’s place in the greatest circle of life. So powerful …

But researchers at New York University suggest in a new study that our brains actually synch with the music we’re listening to, with our brain waves mimicking the patterns of the melody. It does so to help in the process of identifying music.

“We’ve isolated the rhythms in the brain that match rhythms in music,” explains Keith Doelling, an NYU Ph.D. student and the study’s lead author in a press release. “Specifically, our findings show that the presence of these rhythms enhances our perception of music and of pitch changes.”

Not surprisingly, trained musicians are better at perceiving music than non-musicians. Which is also probably just one more reason why they’re sexier, but the study doesn’t go much into that …

Titled “Cortical entrainment to music and its modulation expertise,” researchers in the paper find that when the participants listen to classical music, in varying degrees of tempo, both groups (musicians and non-musicians) show oscillations in brain rhythms matching that of the music itself. Slower tempos, however (classified as only one note per second or slower), could only be synched by the musicians group.

“What this shows is we can be trained, in effect, to make more efficient use of our auditory-detection systems,” observes study co-author David Poeppel, a professor in NYU’s Department of Psychology and Center for Neural Science and director of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt. “Musicians, through their experience, are simply better at this type of processing.”

The study builds on other research supporting brainstem plasticity, or the ability to alter our “pre-programmed” habits with learning processes. So, of course musicians are better at this than others, because they train for it. But it’s not like an old dog can’t learn new tricks, it just takes time.

Damn, wasn’t The Lion King so good though!?