This Is Your Mind on Music – Insights From Psychological Science

Music is just sound – structured, organized sound. Yet it has surrounded us, moved us, and echoed in our memories throughout the history of our species.

Three of the world’s leading psychologists and neuroscientists in the study of music, and one of the world’s leading musicians, will discuss the psychological systems and “orchestra of brain regions” through which music enriches our lives at the Association for Psychological Science’s 24th annual meeting in Chicago, May 24-27, 2012.

Why Our Minds Groove to a Beat

Whether it’s reggaeton, house, salsa, or bluegrass, one thing is clear: people love moving to the beat of music. And growing evidence suggests that the ability to perceive beats and move in synchrony might be unique to humans and just a few other species because of a particular network in the brain. Drawing from his research on music and rhythm, Aniruddh Patel of the Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California, will explain how this brain network operates, why it may have evolved over time, and what it means for us in the real world.

Aniruddh Patel, Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology, Neurosciences Institute —

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 12:00 PM – 12:45 PM
Sheraton Ballroom IV

Five Decades of Top Hits: Memories Are Made of This….

Don’t worry – the bass that is pounding from your teen’s speakers today may not be his favorite forever. Recent research from Carol Krumhansl’s lab suggests that college students may actually prefer the songs of yesteryear over more recent Top 40 hits. Carol Krumhansl, of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, studies how the brain produces perfect pitch and what happens to thinking and emotion when we hear music. In her talk, she’ll detail results of her recent research showing that people have a remarkable memory for music –  that they can recall details such as a song’s name and artist, peg songs correctly to a musical era, and decipher the more subtle elements of style and emotion.

Carol Krumhansl, Professor of Psychology, Cornell University —

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 12:50 PM – 1:35 PM
Sheraton Ballroom IV

Are Musicians Born or Made?

Why do some people become musical virtuosi while others can’t carry a tune? Daniel Levitin of McGill University in Canada is interested in understanding how people become expert performers, composers, and even listeners of music. In this talk, he’ll review research on the various factors that seem to influence musical ability, from old-fashioned practice to complex genetics. Along the way, he’ll examine Ericsson’s finding that musicians spend about 10,000 hours practicing to reach expert levels and he’ll delve into the results of psychobiographical interviews to understand how both nature and nurture contribute to musical expertise.

Daniel Levitin, Professor and James McGill Chair in Psychology, McGill University —

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 1:50 PM – 2:35 PM
Sheraton Ballroom IV

Music, Mind, and Brain Panel Discussion

Victor Wooten, a five-time Grammy winner, is a founding member of the super-group Béla Fleck & the Flecktones. He was voted one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top Ten Bassists of All Time in 2011. Wooten will join Patel, Krumhansl and Levitin to investigate the interplay between music, mind, and brain in a panel discussion.

For interviews with Wooten, please contact Michelle Roche of Michelle Roche Media Relations at 706-353-3244 or

Saturday, May 26, 2012, 2:40 PM – 3:25 PM
Sheraton Ballroom IV

News media may register to attend the conference for free at