TDLC and Mozart & the Mind
What is the effect of music on the brain?
Tim Mullen (TDLC cognitive neuroscientist) and Grace Leslie (musician/cognitive scientist) spent weeks in 2011 brainstorming these questions. Following a series of conversations with Nancy Laturno Bojanic and Priscilla Hall from San Diego classical arts organization Mainly Mozart, they sought to create an event where scientists, musicians, artists and the general public could interact. Where leading scientists could share their latest music-brain research, the public could interact with cutting-edge, biologically-inspired art installations and technology, and where music appreciators could listen to classical musicians perform live -- all in one evening.
They came up with a one-day pilot event called "Mozart & the Mind (MATM)" which premiered May 19, 2012. This featured a lecture on music and the brain by neurobiologist Aniruddh Patel interspersed with performance by cellist Ronald Thomas. This was preceded by an interactive brain-music exposition, which also featured real-time 3D visualization of the brain activity of acclaimed pianist and composer, Stephen Prutsman, as he improvised on the piano. Following the success of this pilot event, Tim Mullen and the team at Mainly Mozart developed an expanded annual series, consisting of six events over three weekends filled with interactivity, science, and music pairing MATM music-brain presentations with interactive expositions and six world-class Spotlight concerts. Held in the auditorium at The Scripps Research Institute, the series put performance and science together on the same stage, pairing lectures and demonstrations by neuroscientists, therapists and musicians, with cutting-edge technology and chamber music performances. Each of six nights was filled with science, interactivity, and music. "We wanted to create a conversation," Tim explains, "…to increase public recognition of the importance of music to health and neuroscience. The event is an opportunity to engage a broader audience in both the appreciation of music, and its connection with brain-science."
Recent studies are showing the positive effect of music on health, brain function, learning and aging, and the MATM lectures explored these relationships.In a dramatic video during TDLC scientist John Iversen's presentation, the audience watched a woman who was barely able to shuffle her feet due to Parkinson's Disease. As music began to play, her entire demeanor changed and her walking became more fluid and with longer strides - giving the audience an outward glimpse of the enormous power of music. The MATM series offered many novel insights into the diverse ways music impacts the brain and behavior, and illuminated scientific advances in the field, as well as highlighting how much we still have to learn.
TDLC researchers form a big part of MATM. While TDLC researcher, Tim Mullen, took the role of Artistic Partner for MATM, Alex Khalil and Victor Minces addressed the role of musical training in improving focus and treating attention disorders, and concluded their talk with a Gamelan performance by the Giri Nata ensemble. Scott Makeig, founding director of the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at UCSD, with Grace Leslie, showed new research using full-body motion capture and mobile brain imaging to explore how musical pulse conveys feeling. And TDLC scientist John Iversen (with Aniruddh D. Patel from Tufts University, and percussionist Aiyun Huang) explored topics such as the neurobiology of musical rhythm, the interplay of music and memory, and the influence of music on early brain development and in restoring brain function.
Other scientists such as Nina Kraus (Hugh Knowles Professor at Northwestern University) and Adam Gazzaley (founding director of the Neuroscience Imaging Center at UC San Francisco) discussed how aging impacts hearing, memory and brain function as well as music's role in toning the brain for auditory and cognitive fitness throughout life. Barbara Reuer discussed the power of music to heal, maintain health and transform lives, including those diagnosed with neurological disorders and diseases such as autism, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's.
The series also touched on how advances in cognitive neuroscience could open new possibilities for musical expression. "A central goal of cognitive neuroscience is to better understand the neural mechanisms underlying cognition and emotion -- which includes our ability as humans to experience and create music," Tim explains. "As we learn more about these relationships between the brain and music and emotion, we can combine this knowledge with advances in neurotechnology to create new possibilities for musical expression and artistic representation."
Overall Goal of MATM
History of Mainly Mozart's "Mozart & the Mind" Series|