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The Library of Congress: Music and the Brain Podcast by Kay Redfield Jamison

The Library of Congress: Music and the Brain Podcast

by Kay Redfield Jamison

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Watch or listen to this great series from the Library of Congress on streaming video or audio podcast. Project chair Kay Redfield Jamison convenes scientists and scholars, composers, performers, theorists, physicians, psychologists, and other experts to talk about cognitive neuroscience and music. Here are some of the lectures in the series:


"The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature": In this short talk, author Daniel Levitin suggests that in human history music came before language, and that throughout history music has almost always been accompanied by movement.


"Depression and Creativity Symposium": Kay Redfield Jamison, Dr. Terence Ketter, and Dr. Peter Whybrow take a look at depression and bipolar disorder and their possible connection to creativity. They specifically discuss artists like Vincent van Gogh, Robert Schumann, and Felix Mendelssohn.


"The Mind of an Artist": Cognitive psychologist Michael Kubovy and composer Judith Shatin suggest that language and music are very closely related in the brain, and Kubovy shows findings on the brain's reaction to different types of music in comparison to the cognition of language.


"Music, Criminal Behavior, and Crime Prevention": Norman Middleton of the Library of Congress Music Division starts the lecture with providing examples of how music has been used in regards to preventing crime and treating criminals. Then Dr. Jacqueline Helfgott talks about ways of discouraging criminal activity and anti-social behavior through the use of music in different environments.


"Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music Therapy": Jayne Standley, director of the Music Therapy Program at Florida State University, introduces music therapy and the many ways it has been applied in the medical profession while showing video examples of successful music therapy.


Enjoy these and many more lectures on "Music and the Brain" in this series of talks from the Library of Congress.


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  • Music as Medicine
    Mon, May 23, 2011


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Dr. Deforia Lane, Director of Music Therapy, Univeristy Hospitals of Cleveland.

  • The Future of Music
    Mon, May 23, 2011


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Tod Machover, composer and Director, Professor of Music and Media, and Director of the Opera of the Future Group at MIT.

  • Music Therapy, Alzheimer's and Post-Traumatic Stress
    Tue, Feb 15, 2011


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Alicia Clair about Music Therapy, Alzheimer's and Post-Traumatic Stress

  • Music and Grief
    Tue, Nov 30, 2010


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Music and the Brain Series advisor Kay Redfield Jamison about her book Nothing Was The Same.

  • Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music Therapy
    Fri, Sep 22, 2010


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Dr. Jayne Standley, Director of the Music Therapy Program, Florida State University.

  • Wellness and Growth: Acoustic Medicine and Music Therapy
    Fri, Sep 10, 2010


    Host Steve Mencher talks with Dr. Vera Brandes, Director, Research Program Music Medicine, Paracelsus Medical Private University, Salzburg.

  • Why Do Listeners Enjoy Music that Makes Them Weep?
    Thu, Apr 29, 2010


    Host Steve Mencher and Professor David Huron, Head of Ohio State University's Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory,answer to the question in a conversation on emotions, the brain and music.

  • Music, Memories, and the Brain
    Thu, Apr 29, 2010


    Dr. Peter Janata, associate professor at University of California, Davis, and member of the Center for Mind and Brain talks with Steve Mencher about how the brain creates an autobiographical soundtrack from our memories.

  • The Positive Effects of Music Therapy on Health
    Thu, Apr 29, 2010


    Steve Mencher from the Library of Congress talks with Concetta M. Tomaino, Executive Director,Institute for Music and Neurologic Function, about "The Positive Effects of Music Therapy on Health."

  • Making Music Changes Brains
    Thu, Apr 29, 2010


    Dr. Gottfried Schlaug, Director of the Music, Neuroimaging and Stroke Recovery Laboratories, Beth Deaconess Israel Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, talks with host Steve Mencher about the notable differences between the brain of a musician and a non-musician.

  • Trance Formation: Music, Trance, Religious Experience, and the Brain
    Fri, Jan 22, 2010


    Steve Mencher from the Library of Congress talks to Dr. Robin Sylvan, Director of the Sacred Center, El Cerrito, California about "Trance Formation: Music, Trance, Religious Experience, and the Brain."

  • States of Mind: Music in Islamic Sufi Rituals
    Fri, Jan 22, 2010


    Steve Mencher from the Library of Congress discusses "States of Mind: Music in Islamic Sufi Rituals" withDr. Taoufiq ben Amor, Gordon Gray J. Lecturer, Arabic Studies, Columbia University.

  • Your Brain on Jazz: Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Improvisation.
    Wed, Dec 09, 2008


    Johns Hopkins otolaryngolost and jazz musician Charles Limb talks about "The Brain on Jazz"--Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Improvisation."

  • The World in Six Songs: How the Musical Brain Created Human Nature.
    Wed, Dec 17, 2008


    Daniel Levitin's new book The World in Six Songs has attracted a serious fan following, including Sting, Joni Mitchell and Willie Nelson. Neuroscientist, rock producer, and best selling author (This is Your Brain on Music) Levitin talks about his research for this fascinating book that takes the reader on a journey of the world through 6 types of songs--friendship, joy, comfort, knowledge, religion/ritual, and love.

  • The Music of Language and the Language of Music.
    Mon, Dec 29, 2008


    In our everyday lives language and instrumental music are obviously different things. Neuroscientist and musician Ani Patel is the author of a recent, elegantly argued offering from Oxford University Press, Music, Language and the Brain. Oliver Sacks calls Patel a "pioneer in the use of new concepts and technology to investige the neural correlates of music." In this podcast he discusses some of the hidden connections between language and instrumental music that are being uncovered by empirical scientific studies.

  • Dangerous Music
    Thu, Jan 29, 2009


    Artistic anathemas, musical mayhem, and cultural conundrums such as "the devil's music"- Middleton and Krash explore the psychological and social issues associated with the human tendency toward censorship of musical expression, as well as what has been described as "suicide-by-music" and crimes that have been connected to musical genres.

  • From Mode to Emotion in Musical Communication
    Fri, Mar 27, 2009


    From Mode to Emotion in Musical Communication: Steven Brown, Director of the NeuroArts Lab at McMaster University, discusses his work looking at the expression of emotion in both Western and non-Western musics. Music employs a number of mechanisms for conveying emotion. Some of them are shared with other modes of expression (speech, gesture) while others are specific to music. The most unique way that music communicates emotion is through the use of contrastive scale types. While Westerners are familiar with the major/minor distinction, the use of contrastive scale types in world musics is universal.

  • "Halt or I'll Play Vivaldi! Classical Music as Crime Stopper"
    Fri, Apr 17, 2009


    Helfgott and Middleton examine the use of classical music by law enforcement and other cultural institutions as social control, to quell and prevent crime. Their conversation touches on how classical music is viewed in contemporary culture, how it can be a tool for discouraging criminal activity and anti-social behavior, as well as its history as a mind-altering experience.

  • The Mind of the Artist
    Tue, Dec 01, 2009


    Dr. Richard E. Cytowic, MD, of George Washington Medical Center discusses his presentation "Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia."

  • Wednesday Is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia
    Tue, Dec 01, 2009


    Michael Kubovy and Judith Shatin of the University of Virginia discuss their presentation "The Mind of an Artist." Debate has long raged about whether and how music expresses meaning beyond its sounding notes. Kubovy and Shatin discuss evidence that music does indeed have a semantic element, and offer examples of how composers embody extra-musical elements in their compositions. Kubovy is a cognitive psychologist who studies visual and auditory perception, and Shatin is a composer who explores similar issues in her music.

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