V.S. Ramachandran, Ralph Keeling join San Diego March for Science April 22

MfS_logo_Female-H-FullColorSan Diego’s scientific prowess to be on display amid historic rally for science


On April 22, thousands will gather downtown to represent San Diego in the nearly 500-city strong March For Science, a once-in-a-lifetime science outreach event. In just a few short months, an innocuous internet comment has morphed into a massive, volunteer-led celebration of science across America and throughout 6 continents. Amid this historic event, San Diegans will gather to hold up our region’s scientific prowess as second to none.

8,000 San Diegans have already responded online to converge in downtown San Diego on April 22 for this family-friendly, nonpartisan, educational event. Neuroscientist V.S. Ramachandran, Scripps CO2 Program Director Ralph Keeling, and others will speak at the event, and we will host a pop-up science expo showcasing San Diego’s most exciting science.

The mission of MFS-SD is two-fold. Our first goal is to encourage face-to-face conversations between scientists and the public. We want scientists to come show who they are and what they do, and for all San Diegans to come show what science means to them. We believe building trust is prerequisite for our second goal – public policy that both supports and is supported by scientific research.

This is a nonpartisan event. We are gathering to show what we are for, not to protest against. We believe that science belongs to all of us, and the best solutions come from combining scientifically-supported ideas from across the political spectrum. We applaud the long tradition of bipartisan, public support for science, and we are marching to bolster this support from all sides.

What: March for Science – San Diego will include an educational set of speakers at both the beginning and end, a short (about 1 mile) march between the two points, and a mini science expo at the end. The family-friendly science expo will feature exhibits from the Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, Mad Science, Taste of Science, and leading scientists from across San Diego sharing what they do every day.

Who: March for Science – San Diego is a nonpartisan group of scientists, engineers, students, teachers, and STEM enthusiasts, with all backgrounds and beliefs. 8,000 local science enthusiasts have already confirmed their attendance at our march, representing San Diego’s scientific prowess among nearly 500 sister marches across the nation and the world.

When: Saturday, April 22 at 10:00 a.m.

Where: The march will begin at the San Diego Civic Center, 1100 Third Ave, San Diego, CA 92101 and walk about 1 mile to Waterfront Park, 1600 Pacific Highway.

Why: The spontaneous emergence of nearly 500 volunteer-run Marches for Science, across America and around the globe, in just a few weeks, shows that motivations run much deeper than any single trigger. Many people clearly hold long-growing concerns about the role of science in our society, including continued investment in research and education, freedom of speech for scientists, climate change, vaccination, and genetic engineering. However, the broad support for these marches also demonstrates a unique opportunity – science is cool! Science tangibly saves lives, creates jobs, and powers our technology, but it also inspires, amazes, bubbles, and fizzes. If we can unite around anything, it’s science.

Why Here: Our city is a powerful core of scientific innovation. San Diego hosts a world-renowned community of research institutes, universities, tech and biotech companies, medical centers, and aerospace industry leaders. Our city’s non-profit research institutions alone generate a 4.6 billion dollar total economic impact on the regional economy (San Diego Regional Economic Development Council).

For more information, contact Diana Hereld at media@marchforsciencesd.com

Springfest 2015: UCSD Music Festival Premiers Live Performance Art, Synthesizer Petting Zoo, Music Psychology Panel and More


Springfest 2015 is the annual showcase of UC San Diego Department of Music’s emerging composers, instrumentalists, and electronic musicians. From April 7-11, concerts will take place every afternoon and night at the Conrad Prebys Music Center and on April 7th and 9th at The Loft (UCSD). On April 19th, Springfest travels to the Birch Aquarium for their annual Immersion event.

Since its founding in the late 1960s, the UCSD Department of Music has been a world leader in experimental music of all stripes, boldly charting the future of jazz, classical, multimedia, and electronic music genres.

SpringFest 2015 begins April 7th at 7:30pm at The Loft (UCSD) with improvisations and new compositions and innovative jazz works. From April 8th through April 11th, there will be two to four performances daily at the Conrad Prebys Music Center featuring masterworks of the late 20th century concert repertoire by Kurtag, Lang, Reich, Scelsi, and Stockhausen, music by UC San Diego’s very own alums Nicholas Deyoe and Edward Hamel, small group improvisation at the aggressive fringe of jazz and popular music, and unprecedented alloys of performance art, sound and media, including investigations of music of the speaking voice (4/9), the experience of motion through music (4/10) and the collision of music and theater (4/11). On April 11th, Springfest hosts an interactive “synthesizer petting zoo,” where audiences can get their hands on the Audio Electronics Club’s handmade music hardware and software, synthesizers, and effects processors.

Reprising last year’s spotlight event, an immersive walk-through concert/installation at Birch Aquarium in La Jolla on April 19th, will feature live performances spread throughout the aquarium including Gavin Bryars’ Sinking of the Titanic, a Gamelan Ensemble, sound installations by Tina Tallon, Nicolee Kuester, Jon Forshee, and Tommy Babin, and SEA SOAR and short films by Lyndsay Ellis Bloom with sound design by Caroline Louise Miller. $10 Discounted admission ($8 for UCSD students) for the entire aquarium.

New this year, Springfest will host its first ever panel discussion on the culture of music and affect, From Fragile to Plastique: Confronting the Culture of Music and Affect, curated by Diana Hereld. Additionally, this event includes exploring alternate models for sound presentation, Celeste Oram’s Microventions, 60 second mini-concerts, and Curt Miller and Nichole Speciale presenting two viewings of their sound installation, Polyester.

Admission to all Springfest events on campus are free of charge.

For full event calendar, visit http://ucsdmusic.blogspot.com/


UC MERCI Project Wins $300K Award for Music and Science Research


Scott Makeig, research scientist and director of the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Institute for Neural Computation of UC San Diego, has brought together a research group from four UC campuses who have won a $300,000 President’s Research Catalyst Award, one of five such awards across the UC system announced by President Janet Napolitano.

The group’s research, which uses music to understand the human brain, “brings together UC experts on music listening, performance, neuroscience, brain imaging, and data science to understand the transformative potential of music for health and cognition,” says Napolitano’s announcement.

Makeig and his colleagues are among the first to receive the new awards, which will channel $10 million over three years to fund research in areas of strategic importance, such as sustainability and climate, food and nutrition, equity and social justice, education innovation, and health care.

“It’s gratifying to know our work on the frontiers of music, systems neuroscience, and human experience has been recognized for its potential value,” said Makeig. “I’m especially pleased for my collaborators. This is a true team effort by scientists from different disciplines with common interests in musical experience and communication.”

His winning project proposes “an American center for the scientific study of musical experience, communication, and behavior.” The UC Music Experience Research Community Initiative (UC MERCI) will allow UC researchers to share cutting-edge resources and collaboratively develop methods to understand – and enhance – music’s ability to affect and even transform the human mind.

Working with Makeig on the project are John Iversen, Sarah Creel, and Gert Lanckriet of UC San Diego; Ramesh Balasubramaniam, UC Merced; Petr Janata, UC Davis; and Mark Tramo, UCLA. Under the initiative, a group of graduate students will work together across the four campuses. California music-industry groups may also be involved.

“The study of musical experience and communication is truly interdisciplinary,” said Makeig. “For centuries, humanists and scientists have studied music and language from different angles and for varied purposes at conservatories and universities around the globe. We now have an opportunity to gain new understanding by using new scientific tools including brain imaging and computation.”

“A thorough and systematic study of music cognition requires a truly multidisciplinary effort, bringing together neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, medicine and, of course, music. While the UC system has much invested in individuals, technologies, and methodologies for studying each of these separately, a systematic interdisciplinary effort to tackle music-cognition problems could enable UC to attain worldwide prominence in these research areas.”


Above information taken directly from full press release by Paul K. Mueller, which may be found here.

More information on MERCI may be found here.

The causal inference of cortical neural networks during music improvisations

The causal inference of cortical neural networks during music improvisations

Wan X1, Crüts B2, Jensen HJ1 
1 Department of Mathematics and Centre for Complexity Science, Imperial College London, London, UK; 2 Brainmarker BV, Molenweg 15a, Gulpen, The Netherlands

“We present an EEG study of two music improvisation experiments. Professional musicians with high level of improvisation skills were asked to perform music either according to notes (composed music) or in improvisation. Each piece of music was performed in two different modes: strict mode and “let-go” mode. Synchronized EEG data was measured from both musicians and listeners. We used one of the most reliable causality measures: conditional Mutual Information from Mixed Embedding (MIME), to analyze directed correlations between different EEG channels, which was combined with network theory to construct both intra-brain and cross-brain networks. Differences were identified in intra-brain neural networks between composed music and improvisation and between strict mode and “let-go” mode. Particular brain regions such as frontal, parietal and temporal regions were found to play a key role in differentiating the brain activities between different playing conditions. By comparing the level of degree centralities in intra-brain neural networks, we found a difference between the response of musicians and the listeners when comparing the different playing conditions.”

For our Italian friends:

Gli Autori presentano uno studio EEG da due esperimenti di improvvisazione musicale. Ai musicisti professionisti, con un grande livello di capacità di improvvisazione, veniva chiesto di eseguire musica composta o di improvvisare. Ogni pezzo musicale veniva eseguito in due modalità differenti: “preciso” e “rilassato”. I dati di sincronizzazione EEG sono stati registrati sia sui musicisti sia sugli ascoltatori. Gli Autori utilizzano una delle più attendibili misure di causalità, l’Informazione reciproca da embedding misto (MIME) condizionale, per analizzare le correlazioni dirette tra differenti canali EEG, che sono stati combinati con la teoria dei network per costruire circuiti sia intra-cerebrali che cross-cerebrali. Sono state identificate differenze nei network intra-neurali tra la musica composta e l’improvvisazione e tra il modo “preciso” e il modo “rilassato”. Particolari regioni cerebrali come quella frontale, parietale e temporale sono state identificate come regioni chiave nella distinzione delle attività cerebrali tra le differenti condizioni di esecuzione. Comparando i diversi gradi di centralità nei network intra-cerebrali, si è riscontrata una differenza tra la risposta dei musicisti e quella degli ascoltatori quando si comparavano le differenti condizioni di esecuzione.

For full article, please visit Cornell University Library.

Can musical training influence brain connectivity? Evidence from diffusion tensor MRI

Brain Sci 2014 Jun 10;4(2):405-27

Can musical training influence brain connectivity? Evidence from diffusion tensor MRI

(Moore E, Shaefer RS, Bastin ME, Roberts N, Overy K)*


“In recent years, musicians have been increasingly recruited to investigate grey and white matter neuroplasticity induced by skill acquisition. The development of Diffusion Tensor Magnetic Resonance Imaging (DT-MRI) has allowed more detailed investigation of white matter connections within the brain, addressing questions about the effect of musical training on connectivity between specific brain regions. Here, current DT-MRI analysis techniques are discussed and the available evidence from DT-MRI studies into differences in white matter architecture between musicians and non-musicians is reviewed. Collectively, the existing literature tends to support the hypothesis that musical training can induce changes in cross-hemispheric connections, with significant differences frequently reported in various regions of the corpus callosum of musicians compared with non-musicians. However, differences found in intra-hemispheric fibres have not always been replicated, while findings regarding the internal capsule and corticospinal tracts appear to be contradictory. There is also recent evidence to suggest that variances in white matter structure in non-musicians may correlate with their ability to learn musical skills, offering an alternative explanation for the structural differences observed between musicians and non-musicians. Considering the inconsistencies in the current literature, possible reasons for conflicting results are offered, along with suggestions for future research in this area.”

And for our Italian friends:

In tempi recenti i musicisti sono stati sempre più spesso reclutati per indagare la neuroplasticità della sostanza grigia e bianca indotta dall’acquisizione di nuove abilità. Lo sviluppo della risonanza magnetica a tensore di diffusione (DT-MRI) ha permesso un’indagine più dettagliata delle connessioni della materia bianca all’interno del cervello, permettendo di rispondere a quesiti che interessano lo sviluppo della neuroplasticità indotta dal training musicale. In questo studio, si discutono le potenzialità di questo metodo e si evidenziano le differenze di connettività riscontrate nel cervello di musicisti e non musicisti. Globalmente, la letteratura attuale tende a supportare un aumento della connettività interemisferica indotta dalla pratica musicale, con differenze significative trovate nelle varie regioni del corpo calloso dei musicisti rispetto ai non musicisti. In ogni caso, le differenze nelle fibre intra-emisferiche non sono sempre replicate, mentre le osservazioni riferite alla capsula interna e al tratto corticospinale sembrano essere contraddittorie. Esiste anche una recente evidenza che suggerisce che la variabilità nella struttura della sostanza bianca nei non musicisti possa correlare con la loro capacità di acquisire nuove abilità musicali, offrendo una spiegazione alternativa per le differenze strutturali osservate tra i musicisti e i non musicisti. Considerando le incongruenze nella letteratura, gli Autori propongono una possibile spiegazione per i risultati contraddittori, suggerendo una strategia per la ricerca futura in quest’area delle neuroscienze.

*(1 Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD), Reid School of Music, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9DF, UK; 2 SAGE Center for the Study of the Mind, University of California, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA; 3 Centre for Clinical Brain Science, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK; 4 Clinical Research Imaging Centre (CRIC), University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK; 5 Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD),Reid School of Music, Alison House, 12 Nicolson Square, Edinburgh EH8 9DF, UK)

“Neuromusic News” edited by Fondazione Mariani.
Contributors: Luisa Lopez, Giuliano Avanzini, Maria Majno and Barbara Bernardini.

This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).

CALL FOR PAPERS – 13th Annual Auditory Perception, Cognition and Action Meeting (Long Beach)

APCAM 2014 Call for Papers

The 13th Annual Auditory Perception, Cognition and Action Meeting (APCAM 2014) will be held on Thursday, November 20 (at the Hyatt Regency Long Beach Hotel) in Long Beach, California. APCAM is a one-day satellite meeting affiliated with the annual meeting of the Psychonomic Society. The goal of APCAM is to bring together researchers from various theoretical perspectives to present focused research on auditory cognition, perception, and aurally guided action. APCAM is a unique meeting in its exclusive focus on the perceptual, cognitive, and behavioral aspects of audition. Another unique aspect of APCAM is that it recently has become a FREE EVENT FOR ALL ATTENDEES.

The Organizing Committee welcomes not only empirical, but also general theoretical and methodological submissions on a variety of auditory topics, including (but not limited to) the following areas:

Localization, motion perception, and spatial cognition
Object, event, and pattern perception
Aurally guided action and navigation
Auditory scene analysis
Timing and attention
Pitch, loudness, and timbre perception
Music perception, cognition, and performance
Comparative auditory processing
Behavioral neuroscience
Memory and source identification

Submissions should include an abstract of 300 words or less, the title of the proposed presentation, names and institutional affiliation information for all contributing authors as they should appear in the conference program, as well as e-mail contact information for the primary/submitting author. Abstracts should be submitted online by following the Submit link on the APCAM website (www.apcam.us); this submission portal is expected to become active prior to the end of June. Authors also can communicate directly about submissions with the Chair of the Organizing Committee at hallmd@jmu.edu.

Each submission also should indicate whether there is a preference for an oral or poster presentation. The committee will make every effort to accommodate presentation preferences, though it may not be possible to honor all requests. Given the limited number of oral presentations, authors traditionally have only been permitted a single oral presentation. If there are more accepted abstracts with an oral presentation preference than there are available presentation slots, preference will be given to papers judged to represent the strongest contributions, as well as to participants who did not deliver an oral presentation at the immediately preceding APCAM.

Additionally, the Organizing Committee welcomes proposals representing either a cluster of 3-4 related abstracts or a possible (45- to 60-minute) panel discussion on a unified topic. Related abstracts can be submitted separately, along with a separate abstract (still 300 words or less) from the coordinating author. Proposals for panel discussions will only require this latter type of abstract. The abstract from the coordinating author should indicate the motivation for, and the nature of, the proposed session, including a brief overview of the fundamental issue(s) that it hopes to address. A listing of contributing authors for the session also should be provided, along with a brief statement about what each author will discuss. Such abstracts are expected to be included in the printed program if a proposal is accepted. Preference will be given to proposed sessions that cut across research domains and that have important theoretical implications and/or practical applications. Additionally, panelists for proposed sessions should be selected based upon their areas of expertise, and thus their ability to actively contribute to the discussion. Panel discussions should be designed to allow for at least 10-15 minutes of questions/participation from the audience either at the end of the session or interspersed throughout the panel discussion.

The deadline for submission of abstracts and all program proposals is October 1. While this traditional deadline is very close to the conference date, all authors are expected to be notified about the status of their submission very rapidly after the submission deadline. Travel and reservation information can be located through the APCAM website (www.apcam.us), which includes a link to details found on the Psychonomic Society site (http://www.psychonomic.org/general-information).

If you are interested in attending APCAM, but do not anticipate being a contributing author, then you can register simply by sending a brief e-mail that includes your name and affiliation to hallmd@jmu.edu. Contributing authors will be registered automatically, but are asked to indicate at the time of submission which authors are expected to attend the meeting.

Musical Hallucinations Not Necessarily of a Psychiatric Nature

Rev Neurol 2014 Mar 1;58(5):207-12
Musical hallucinations: perpetual music                                                                                                                                                                     Hospital Donostia, 20014 San Sebastian, Spain

Musical hallucinations are a kind of auditory hallucinaion that are prevalent among the non-psychiatric population, but which have rarely been reported in the neurological literature. They occur most frequently in the elderly, in females and when there is a loss of hearing, but their pathophysiology has still to be unravelled.. We report here six cases (five females and one male) of musical hallucinations diagnosed in a general neurology clinic over a time-span of five years. In five cases there was also concurrent hypoacusis, to a greater or lesser extent, and one had been triggered by pentoxifylline. In most instances, the musical content of the hallucinations had its origins in music experienced in childhood and early youth. In the cases submitted to pharmacological treatment, the response was poor. Yet, after explaining to the patients that the condition was benign and had no connection with a psychotic pathology, the degree of acceptance of the symptoms was good. Musical hallucinations are a little-known pathology lying on the borderline between neurology, otorhinolaryngology and psychiatry which are often wrongly linked to mental disease. It is essential to explain to patients and relatives that these symptoms are not necessarily of a psychiatric nature, and to be aware of the potential capacity of some commonly used drugs to generate them.

Per gli Italiani:

Le allucinazioni musicali sono un tipo di allucinazione uditiva prevalente nella popolazione non psichiatrica, ma che raramente vengono riportate nella letteratura neurologica. Si manifestano in prevalenza nelle persone anziane, soprattutto donne, quando vi sia una perdita dell’udito, ma la loro fisiopatologia resta ancora oggi poco chiara. In questo studio gli Autori riportano 6 casi (5 donne e un uomo) di soggetti affetti da allucinazioni musicali diagnosticate in una clinica di neurologia generale in un periodo di cinque anni. In 5 casi i pazienti presentavano anche ipoacusia di grado variabile, in un caso scatenata dalla pentoxifillina. Nella maggior parte dei casi il contenuto musicale delle allucinazioni consisteva nell’udire musica relativa al periodo dell’infanzia o dell’adolescenza. Nei casi trattati farmacologicamente, la risposta è stata scarsa. Dopo che è stato spiegato ai pazienti che il sintomo era benigno e non aveva alcuna connessione con una patologia psicotica, il grado di accettazione dei sintomi è stato buono. In conclusione, le allucinazioni musicali sono una patologia poco conosciuta che si inserisce in un contesto borderline tra la neurologia, l’otorinolaringoiatria e la psichiatria, e viene spesso erroneamente associata ai disordini mentali. È essenziale spiegare ai pazienti e ai loro parenti che questi sintomi non sono necessariamente di natura psichiatrica, e tenere in considerazione il fatto che possono essere sollecitati da molti farmaci di uso comune.

Abstract provided by US National Library of MedicineNational Institutes of Health.