Music and Brains

Four of the best “brains” in the field of the cognitive neuroscience will gather in the Music and Brains workshop to show how current research is beginning to solve the mystery of our brain’s fascination with music. The seminar is open to all, but If you would like coffee/lunch - please use the Attendance Form to register by September 1st.

Coordinators: Bruno Laeng, Rolf Inge Godøy, Karsten Specht and Vera Østensen


09:00-09:30     Coffee and croissants

09:30-09:40     Welcome and introduction by the organizers

09:40-10:40     "The nature of music: Evidence from congenital amusia"

                         Isabelle Peretz, Université de Montréal, Canada.

10:40-11:40     “Towards a neural basis of musical semantics?"

                         Stephan Koelsch, Free University of Berlin, Germany

11:40-12:40      LUNCH (served outside Aud. 4)

12:40-12:55      Askil Holm

12:55-13:55     "Music across the life span: learning and well-being?"

                         Mari Tervaniemi, University of Helsinki, Finland

13:55-14:55      "I've got rhythm", . . . or do I? - What musical training does to

                         the brain and its processing of challenging rhythms."

                         Peter Vuust, Royal Academy of Music, Denmark

15:00-16:00      Mini Jazz concert, with something to drink ext. Aud.
                         Peter Vuust (bass), Bjørn Vidar Solli (guitar) and Anders Thorén (Drums)


Music and Brains is a workshop on how the human brain makes possible the experience of music and music making. Music may be commonly thought as a domain of the Arts and aesthetics, a surplus human activity that is meant to entertain us and it may have no particular biological meaning, being just an accident of human brains’ propensity to conjure up virtual worlds (in this case, panoramas made of sounds).

However, the above view has changed radically since both cognitive psychology and the neurosciences begun in recent years to investigate intensely music from science’s viewpoint. It is now clear that music perception or performance has specific neural correlates, it has a genetic basis and it is heritable, it is strongly related to the evolution of language and yet it has its specificity. It is a complex communication and cognitive process, requiring sophisticated perceptual analyses by the brain as well as the development of expert sensory-motor systems in the brain of musicians that control their actions’ timing and precision of coordinated motion.

In particular, expert musicians provide a special paradigm for understanding brain plasticity, since musicians spend a great deal of their lifetime – often from an early age - practicing and refining their actions and perceptions.

Music is also a complex emotive process that recruits networks of the brain that are at the basis of our experience of emotion, rewards, and the sense of beauty.  Music – somewhat mysteriously - evolved to move the body and mind of humans.


Department of Psychology, Department of Musicology, BeRG-AP (UiB) and The workshop is supported by The Faculty of Social Sciences and the Department of Psychology
Published May 27, 2014 4:57 PM - Last modified Sep. 22, 2014 3:36 PM