Learn more about international research that was presented at the Neurosciences and Music IV conference in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Day three (June 11, 2011) of the conference opened with symposium four and the topic Memory and Learning in Musical Performance. The presenters included Virginia Penhune, Peter Pfordresher, Amir Lahav, Caroline Palmer, and Maria Herrojo Ruiz. These talks spanned discussions of musical training, audiovisual interactions, retrieval processes, and even dystonia.
The topic of symposia five was Mind and Brain in Musical Imagery. The presenters included Andrea Halpern, Peter Keller, Petr Janata, and Robert Zatorre. These presentations offered a rich discussion of the mental representations of pitch, imagery, and the cognitive processes of musical thoughts.
Symposium six closed the afternoon with the topic of Plasticity and Malplasticity in Health and Disease. The presenters included Stefan Koelsch, Christo Pantev, Gottfried Schlaug, Lutz Jancke, and Eckard Altenmuller. Some highlights included Schlaug’s work on the use of melodic intonation therapy (MIT) as an intervention for individuals with Aphasia, and highlighted the role of the arcuate facicilus in the auditory motor feedback loop. Jancke spoke of the role of the pre-motor cortex in musicians and suggested that it is active even before making music.
Day four (June 12, 2011) presented the final three symposium of the conference. The first presentation was symposium seven titled, The Role of Music in Stroke Rehabilitation: Neural Mechanisms and Therapeutic Techniques. The presenters included Teppo Sarkamo, David Soto, Antonio Rodriguez-Fornells, Takako Fujioko, Concetta Tomaino, and Raymond MacDonald. Highlights of these talks included Tomaino’s work as a music therapist with stroke patients, where she noted the importance of face-to-face interactions in the treatment of stroke patients.
Symposium eight was titled Music: A Window into the World of Autism. The presenters included Pamela Heaton, Krista Hyde, Istvan Molnar-Szakacs, and Catherine Wan. Some highlights of these talks included Heaton’s work on children with autism and their attraction to music compared to speech sounds and non-musical / non-speech sounds. Additionally Molnar Szakacs who is noted for his work on the putative human mirror neuron system suggested that this may not play a role in the imitation and theory of mind difficulties commonly associated with autism. Wan presented some new imaging on the arcuate faciculus which tied into research also presented by Schlaug in relation to language and music. She stressed that there is yet no gold standard for speech training with non-verbal children with autism.
The final symposium, nine, was titled Learning and Memory in Musical Disorders. The presenters included Simone Dalla Bella, Lauren Steward, Psyche Loui, and Isabelle Peretz. Highlights included Loui’s talk on tone deafness and her findings on reduced arcute faciculus among such individuals. Stewart and Peretz presented new research on amusia and the potential for learning. The meeting closed with final questions, and an invitation to attend the Edinburgh International Film festival which continued one week post-conference.
After the daily symposia poster sessions were packed with individuals eager to share and receive feedback on their research. Two hour time slots were allocated for the poster sessions, but each evening invariably exceeded this time frame. Each evening poster session were organized to match the topics that were discussed in the symposia. While the symposia talks offered a rich forum for dialogue and inquiry, the poster sessions engaged an equal level of excitement.
Edinburgh offered a rich historical backdrop for this though provoking and inspiring meeting. Those who attended were fortunate to be part of such an awe inspiring and cutting edge event. No date or location has been set for the next meeting, but this writer can speculate that the next event will likely occur in 2014, and that it will possibly exceed the excellence of 2011 meeting in Edinburgh. For those interested in learning more information on upcoming conferences and events for the Neurosciences and Music please visit Mariani Foundation website: www.fondazione-mariani.org
MTRB thanks Krystal for this wonderful update from the conference. Be on the lookout for a companion podcast!