February 18, 1999
Vol. 18 No. 10

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    Conference connects music to mind

    By Theresa Carson
    News Office

    International scholars will gather Friday, Feb. 26, and Saturday, Feb. 27, at the Franke Institute for the Humanities for the upcoming Music, Culture, Mind Conference. They will study the effects on the brain when it hears music and when it creates music.

    “The human capacity for making music can reveal how people think,” said Larry Zbikowski, Assistant Professor in Music and conference coordinator.

    Zbikowski has invited musicologists, ethnomusicologists and music theorists who will formulate questions that will further inquiry into a subject that merges music studies with cognitive science.

    Zbikowski noted Nobel Prize-winning neurobiologist Gerald Edelman’s suggestion that the brain is more like a tropical rainforest than an electronic switchboard. Zbikowski explained, “The brain is a living organism that has an ecology of its own. Each time we remember something, we actually change the structure of our brains by strengthening some synaptic connections and weakening others.”

    “The impact of music is somewhat less specific than other modes of communication,” Zbikowski said.

    “Music is temporally bound. We have a means of remembering music, yet we have to do this without a whole lot of visual stimuli. The way music makes its effect is through this fluidity.”

    The group of scholars will explore new empirical methods and new technological resources for the investigation of how music and mind connect.

    Scholars will discuss the topic of “Cognitive Science and Culture” at 2 p.m. Feb. 26. At 9 a.m. Feb. 27, they will address “Music and Cognition.” The free presentations will be in the Franke Institute for the Humanities at the Joseph Regenstein Library, 1100 E. 57th St.

    More information may be obtained from the Web site at http://humanities.uchicago.edu/mcm/" or by e-mailing Zbikowski at larry@midway.uchicago.edu.