Exploring the Impact of Music on Brain Function

NCCAM Integrative Medicine Research Lecture

Aniruddh (Ani) Patel, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Tufts University. Dr. Patel’s research focuses on how the brain processes music and language, focusing on what the similarities and differences between the two reveal about each other and about the brain itself. He has pursued this topic with a variety of techniques, including neuroimaging, theoretical analyses, acoustic research, and comparative studies of nonhuman animals. Dr. Patel has published more than 50 research articles and a scholarly book (Music, Language, and the Brain, 2008, Oxford Univ. Press). Dr. Patel was awarded the 2009 Music Has Power award from the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function in New York City. In this lecture, Dr. Patel will examine what measurable impacts musical listening and musical training have on the human brain, and what neurobiological mechanisms support these effects. These impacts can be divided into two broad categories: effects that occur while the music is being heard, and longer-lasting effects on other cognitive and emotional functions. Of particular interest in the latter category are impacts of musical training on nonmusical brain functions such as language and attention, as mediated by mechanism of experience-dependent neural plasticity. This talk will discuss existing studies pertinent to these issues, and point out directions for future research.

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