Previous lectures

November 14th 2022 Timing is everything: The role of synchrony during musical engagement with Lauren Fink

Abstract
Music unfolds over time, enabling performers and listeners to form expectations about when certain events will happen, or to move their bodies with the music. But how do we form such time-based expectations? And what is the role of timing in shaping our perception, attention, and subjective experiences during musical engagement? In this talk, I discuss my research over the past 5 years, which attempts to answer these questions from different angles, and in a variety of musical contexts. From computational models to predict listener attention, to group music-making experiments that alter the ability of people to move in time together, I will provide an overview of the importance of synchronization in shaping attention and subjective experience during musical engagement.

Bio
Lauren Fink is a post-doctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. In January 2023, she will move to McMaster University (Canada) for a professorship in the Cognitive Neuroscience of Music. Lauren holds degrees in Percussion Performance (BM; University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music), Music Studies (MPhil; University of Cambridge), and Neuroscience (PhD; University of California, Davis).

 

October 25th 2022 Groove on the brain: predictive brain processes underlying musical rhythm and interaction with Peter Vuust

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Abstract
Musical rhythm has a remarkable capacity to move our minds and bodies. When we listen to “Blame it on the Boogie” by The Jacksons, it is difficult to refrain from tapping a foot or bobbing the head to the beat. Here, I will describe how the theory of predictive processing can be used as a framework for understanding how rhythm is processed and why we move to certain kinds of music more than to others. Importantly, music is fundamentally a social phenomenon, in that we listen to, synchronize to, and make music together. This music interaction is typically based on agreeing on predictive structures such as meter or tonality. I will end the presentation by presenting a new line of studies showing how predictive coding can be applied to understand the dynamics involved in interpersonal synchronization using a minimal tapping paradigm, where two individuals are placed in separate rooms with headphones and EEG equipment and asked to tap together in different conditions.

About Peter Vuust
Professor Peter Vuust, Ph.D. is a unique combination of a top-level jazz musician and a world class scientist. He leads the Danish National Research Foundation’s center for “Music In the Brain” and holds joint appointments as full professor at the Danish Royal Academy of Music and Dept of Clinical Medicine Aarhus University.
He has published more than 150 scientific papers in high ranking international journals, most recently the review “Music in the brain” in Nature Reviews Neuroscience (March, 2022). He uses state-of-the-art brain scanning techniques such as fMRI, PET, EEG, MEG and behavioral measures and is a world leading expert in the field of music and the brain – a research field he has single-handedly built up in Denmark as leader of the center for Music In the Brain (MIB) currently employing more than 30 researchers. Among many other grants, he has received DKK 98 million (~ US $ 15 billion) as PI, from the Danish National Research Foundation.
In addition, Prof Vuust is a renowned jazz bassist and composer; leading the Peter Vuust Quartet with Alex Riel, Lars Jansson and Ove Ingemarsson of which seven records have been released so far. He has also played on more than 100 recordings and been sideman with international jazz stars such as Lars Jansson, Tim Hagans, John Abercrombie, Dave Liebman and many more. He is the recipient of the 2009 Jazz Society of Aarhus’ “Gaffel”-prize. His album “September Song” was widely acclaimed by reviewers and received a nomination for a Danish Music Award in 2014. As professor at the Royal Academy of Music in Aarhus, Denmark, he has taught electric and acoustic bass as well as music theory, ear training and ensemble playing. He has given many keynote talks and masterclasses at international conferences and institutions on a wide range of topics ranging from the neuroscience of music to improvisation and composition. He has written three monograph’s “Polyrhythm and –meter in modern jazz; a study of Miles Davis’ Quintet from the 1960s”, “Music on the Brain”, and most recently a book on musical leadership.

 

October 6th 2022 “Can Flow Proneness Be Protective Against Mental and Cardiovascular Health Problems” with Miriam Mosing

Abstract
Flow is the phenomenon of being “in the zone”, marked by an intense, effortless, and joyful concentration on a task. It has been suggested that flow proneness is associated with good mental and cardiovascular health. However, the design of past studies does not allow for conclusions to be drawn about a potential causal protective effect of flow proneness on health. The present talk will explore the nature of the relationship between flow proneness and health outcomes, primarily focusing on two recent studies utilizing data from the Swedish Twin register and the Swedish National Patient Registries, and provide preliminary support for a protective role of flow experiences on depression and anxiety.

Biography
Dr. Miriam Mosing is leading the Behavior Genetics unit at the Cognitive Neuropsychology Department at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany. Dr. Mosing also is an Associate Professor and Docent at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics and the Neuroscience Department at the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm, Sweden and is a Develop Research Momentum (DRM) Fellow at the Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, University of Melbourne, Australia.

Dr. Mosing’s research focuses on how genes and environment play together to produce individual differences in quality of life throughout lifespan as well as in expertise acquisition. Why do some people fare better than others throughout life in terms of cognitive, mental and somatic health? Why are some people more successful and become experts in a given field? Understanding how genetic predispositions interplay with environmental factors (including social isolation, stress, different leisure and cultural activities) will reveal the nature of phenotypic associations observed in daily life, which will not only allow us to identify truly causal and modifiable risk/protective factors (relevant environments), but will ultimately also help us to identify those who are at greatest risk or may benefit most from interventions.

Dr. Mosing is a behavioural geneticist who completed her (under)graduate training in Neuroscience at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands. She then conducted her PhD research on the genetics of complex behaviour, with a particular focus on Quality of Life and health in the second half of life at the QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute and the University of Queensland, Australia.

 

September 15th 2022 “Dance expertise as a subject for experimental psychology” with Julia F Christensen 

Watch the video online (coming soon)

This September 15th Julia F Christensen from the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt will hold a lecture in the Brain and Culture series entitled “Dance expertise as a subject for experimental psychology”, so please save the date! Julia is a senior research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt, Germany, and author of Tanzen Ist Die Beste Medizin (2018), or ‘Dance is the Best Medicine’, forthcoming in English in 2022.

 

September 1st 2022: “A neurophysiological approach to intense aesthetic experiences” with Eugen Wassiliwizky

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Abstract

Making the audiences feel moved is among the key goals of the arts. We highly appreciate artworks that have this capacity. Recent insights into the nature of intense aesthetic experiences suggest a mixed affective nature of these states. That is, when deeply moved, we often experience a mixture of pleasure and some form of negative affect like sadness, fear, empathic concern, or pity. Almost paradoxically, the negative components seem rather to fuel — rather than jeopardize — the overall pleasantness of our experience. One particular challenge for us scientists is to approach these highly complex states empirically and in an experimental setup, in order to understand their neural underpinnings, their elicitation mechanisms, and their evolutionary origin. Here, I will present a method that was designed to give us access to these complex, intense, and yet highly memorable and pleasurable affective states.

 

May 5th 2022: “Hidden forces in education: genes, environment, personality, anxiety and creativity” with Yulia Kovas

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Abstract
There are several psychological characteristics that represent significant but often hidden forces in education. In this lecture Yulia Kovas describes four of these forces and examines how genetic and environmental factors contribute to these traits and to learning and education more broadly. The new insights into these forces come from recent twin studies, molecular genetic studies, neuro visualisation studies, cross-cultural and longitudinal research. The first force is spatial ability, which has been linked to academic success, especially in STEM fields. Recent research suggests that students whose spatial talent is undiscovered are more likely to disengage and develop emotional problems. Research also suggests that spatial abilities can be developed through targeted interventions. The second important force in education is creativity. Although its importance is widely recognised, this phenomenon is poorly understood. Recent studies explored different aspects of creativity, sources of individual differences in creativity, and how creativity is linked to academic success. The third major force in education is personality. Personality research is expanding, investigating multiple personality dimensions, and using new methods such as network analyses and eye-tracking. These approaches are providing new insights into processes through which personality influences educational outcomes. And the fourth important and often unrecognised area in educational context is anxiety, including test anxiety, social anxiety and subject-specific anxiety such as mathematical anxiety. Studies suggest that different anxieties have largely independent origins and may require different educational interventions. Research has also shown that moderate anxiety, combined with high motivation, may actually enhance academic outcomes. Yulia evaluates how these, and other scientific findings can contribute to personalising education.

 

May 5th 2022: “”The Brain’s Crescendo – how music education impacts child development ” with Assal Habibi

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Abstract
Learning to play music is a complex task. It engages many different brain regions because it requires the concurrent recruitment of distinct sensory systems, including the auditory, somatosensory, and visual, as well as the interplay of these sensory systems with the motor, executive and affective systems.Assal Habibi will in this lecture provide an overview on how incorporating music education as part of the school curricula, can affect the brain development as well as academic achievement and social well-being of children and adolescents. Assal will specifically share findings from a multi-year longitudinal study, using behavioral, neuroimaging, and electrophysiological measures. In this study the effects of a group-based music training program on the development of children from under-resourced communities in Los Angeles, was investigated. The study demonstrates that participation in music education programs was associated with enhancement in brain development, as well as the development of emotion regulation and socio-emotional skills. The benefits of incorporating art-education programs in childhood education, specifically from the perspective of health and wellbeing, will be highlighted and are particularly relevant to mental health challenges facing children and adolescents during the COVID 19 pandemic.

 

February 4th 2022: “Oedipus Rex in the Genomic Era” with Yulia Kovas

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Abstract
In this seminar we will take a journey into the Genomic Era, taking Sophocles as a guide. We will explore the rapid genetic advances and ever expanding insights into the human genome. We will explore what these insights mean for the ancient themes of Sophocles’ tragedies: free will, fate, and chance; prediction, misinterpretation, the burden that comes with knowledge of the future; self-fulfilling and self-defeating prophecies; the forces that contribute to similarities and differences among people; roots and lineage; and the judgement of oneself and others. Using Oedipus Rex as a lens, we will examine existential, social, ethical, and legal concerns and dilemmas introduced by the genomic era – highlighting the relevance of behavioural genetics across the humanities, social and life sciences.

 

December 1st 2021 ”The social neuroaesthetics of dance and live performance” with Guido Orgs

Abstract
Dance is an inherently social art form in which at least one person moves while another person watches. The aesthetic appreciation of dance is linked to the expression of emotions and intentions through the human body, and it can be conceptualised as a form of nonverbal communication via observed movement. In a series of lab and live performance studies, I will explore the idea that dance aesthetics depend on the saliency of social signals that are conveyed through both the individual and the collective kinematics of movement, including the variability and predictability of movement acceleration and the synchrony among a group of dance performers. Movement is the common denominator of dancing, making music and acting. Understanding the aesthetics of individual and joint action may thus provide a conceptual framework for an empirical aesthetics of the live performing arts.


May 4th 2021 “How rhythm and timing structure experience: Auditory perception, music and social interaction” with Laurel Trainor

Biography
Laurel Trainor is a Professor of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour at McMaster University, a Research Scientist at the Rotman Research Institute, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and a Distinguished University Professor. She directs the Auditory Development Lab (https://trainorlab.mcmaster.ca/) and has published over 160 articles in journals including Science and Nature on the neuroscience of auditory development and the perception of music, including work on pitch, tonality, timing, rhythm, neuroplasticity, and the role of music in social interaction and developmental disorders. She co-holds a patent for the Neuro-compensator hearing aid. She is the founding and present director of the LIVELab (https://livelab.mcmaster.ca/), a unique research-concert hall with high acoustic control, that is equipped with multi-person motion capture and EEG for studying music performance and human interaction. Laurel also has a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Toronto and is currently principal flute of the Burlington Symphony.

 

15th april 2021 “Beyond the limit of sensorimotor skills of musicians” with Shinichi Furuya

Biography

Shinichi Furuya is a researcher and program manager at Sony Computer Science Laboratories, research associate professor at Sophia University, and a guest professor at Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media. After studying mechanical engineering, biomechanics, and motor neuroscience at Osaka University in Japan, he worked at University of Minnesota (USA), Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media (Germany), and Sophia University (Japan). He received the Postdoctoral Fellowship at Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, Heisenberg Fellowship at German Research Foundation (DFG), and Susanne Klein-Vogelbach-Prize for the Research of Human Movement. His research goal is to support for musicians to overcome the limit of musical expertise and to prevent injuries through musical practicing. Toward the goal, he has studied neuroplastic and biomechanical mechanisms subserving acquisition, sophistication, loss, and restoration of sensorimotor skills in musical performance. He is also an organizer of the piano academy program hosted by Sony CSL, at which he provides physical education and technological support for young talented pianists.

 

25th February 2021 “Origin, Treatment and Prevention of Movement Disorders in Musicians” with Eckart Altenmüller

Speaker: Eckart Altenmüller, Institute of Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicin in Hannover

Date and time: Thursday 25th February at 15.00

Biography
Eckart Altenmüller is the Head of Department at the Institute of Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicin at Hochschule für Musik Freiburg. Apart from being a well known researcher in the field of Music and Neurology, he is also one of the leading clinical experts on medical ailments afflicting musicians, for example the illness known as musicians cramp. Eckart Altenmüller’s lecture this time will focus on neurological problems in musicians, and how they can be prevented and treated. The title of his lecture is The Origin, Treatment and Prevention of Movement Disorders in Musicians.