Brain and Music Research

Frederick Bianchi

Rich Falco

Dan Foley

Karl Helmer



Music Improvisation

This research initiative focuses on the brain’s strategic response to music improvisation tasks.  The long held belief that music improvisation may be accompanied by an increase in brain activity has recently been brought into question.  It has been observed that the brain may in fact ‘shut-down’ specific areas of processing in order to facilitate improvisation.  MAGIC researchers are developing methodology and MRI imaging-compatible musical interfaces to further explore the brain’s response to improvisation.  This research is particularly important in relation to music and jazz pedagogy.



Psychoaoustics and Perception

Brain research is underway to fully characterize real-world acoustic vs. psychoacoustic phenomena.   This includes the determination and development of an appropriate methodology to uncover subtle differences in high-bandwidth digital signals.  By comparing high-bandwidth signals captured with 24-bit ADC and 500khz sampling rates, it may be possible to recreate these psychoacoustic and perceptual phenomena in a virtual world.  Of particular interest is the difference in SPL between standard bit-rate delivery systems and high-bandwidth systems.  It would also include an analysis of envelope characteristics and transient changes of high-bandwidth signals, etc… This research will incorporate brain imaging technology to accurately monitor subtle changes and patterns in the brain.


Environmental and Background Sound Design

An important and active area of research is the investigation into the evolutionary basis for music.  Part of this investigation is the response of the brain and body to natural cyclic patterns and vibrations which may have a biological basis that emerged throughout our evolutionary history.  It is theorized that a bio-based sound design may have unique benefits and may offer alternative strategies to sound and music in both the workplace and public spaces.


Research Archive

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Last modified: February 20, 2009 10:01:40