Scratch DJing could help scientists understand more about the structure of the brain, according to top psychologists.
Sometimes derided in mainstream popular culture as that "wicky wicky thing", now it seems the scientific community is sitting up and taking notice of scratch DJs.
Yesterday Macho Zapp was invited to meet with Prof. Lauren Stewart and Prof. Timothy Griffiths, psychologists from the UK's Goldsmiths University in London and the University of Newcastle.
Inspired by our unique in-depth analysis of turntablism in the acclaimed multimedia feature Scratch Obsession, the scientists were keen to find out more about the skill and how years of intense training might change the structure of the brain itself.
Prof. Stewart said: "[The turntablist] is perceptually expert at certain temporal things to get precision matching and spot deviation, but the other part of it, that is quite different I think, is the sensory motor coordination, because that appears to be just as complex as a pianist."
The scientists previously collaborated on research which found piano tuners had increased grey matter volume in certain areas of the brain compared to normal non-piano tuners. Their ability to perceive frequency changes had actually changed the structure of the brain. The hope is that research into scratching might yield similar neurological insights.
Precious little scientific research exists on DJs and virtually none on the turntablist. One of the few papers on DJs was published in 2014 by Blake Butler and Laurel Trainor called 'A Behavioral Assessment of Rhythm Perception in Professional Club DJs' which found that DJs are able to detect "deviations in a rhythmic pattern" in the same way that a percussionist can.
Should the research go ahead, the next step is to devise tasks that can demonstrate the aptitude of the turntablist against a non-turntablist. In simple terms this might be the ability to perceive a change in tempo as in the above paper or it might be the ability to synchronise the motor movements of the left and right hand.
MRI scans would most likely be used to create an image of the brain to see whether a pro scratch DJ displays any differences to an average person.