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Musicians and scientists to research mind and music at Rice University conference

Distinguished neuroscientists and musicians from around the world will gather at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music June 13-17 to collaboratively explore music's role in human cognition and behavior and present the latest research findings from this emerging field of study.

Through a series of in-depth morning seminars, the scientific researchers will be introduced to music theory and history while the musicians learn concurrently about brain morphology, music perception and experimental design. More than just a research symposium, "Exploring the Mind Through Music" will offer free public lectures each afternoon and evening.

"For the first time in a setting like this, music fellows will train with scientists and science fellows will study with musicians, learning in greater depth about each other's disciplines, methods and current perspectives," said Anthony Brandt, conference organizer and associate professor of composition and theory at Rice. "We hope to spur new research collaborations and get neuroscientists and musicians more actively talking to one another and to the public."

Having grown since its 2009 inauguration, the conference will include 15 scientific and 15 musical fellows who were selected from more than 125 applicants. During the conference, the fellows will reside on campus in the university's residential colleges and eat together in the serveries.

The fellows will take seminars with star faculty from Rice and the Texas Medical Center on topics such as music comprehension, the basics of human cognition and the mind-body connection.

The evening lectures will be given by world-renowned experts, including David Huron, head of the Ohio State University Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory; Robert Zatorre, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University; Aniruddh Patel, an evolutionary biologist at the Neurosciences Institute; and Fred Lerdahl, a composer and music theorist at Columbia University. Huron and Zatorre will offer a talk on music and emotion, and Patel and Lerdahl will discuss music and language.

"The goal of art and the goal of brain science are really not so different: to access, explore and understand what's going on inside of ourselves," Brandt said. "Brain science is beginning to show that human thinking is fundamentally creative. Working in tandem, art and science can help us to deepen our understanding of who we really are."

"Exploring the Mind Through Music" is presented by the Shepherd School of Music, the Humanities Research Center and Methodist Hospital's Center for Performing Arts and Medicine, with support from Rice University's Faculty Initiative Fund.


Contact: David Ruth
Rice University

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