‘The Musical Mind’

By: Timothy Betler and John Dillard

In collaboration with Roper St. Francis Hospital in Charleston, South Carolina, and the Charleston Symphony Orchestra and Carnegie Mellon University, researchers from University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and UPMC met at the crossroads of art and neurology to showcase how a seasoned musician’s brain works when creating music.

Countless studies have been tightly controlled to see if there is a correlation between music and language, comprehension or emotion. The study was a theater art project designed to display the brain’s activity when an expert is performing his or her craft.

In this video, James T. Becker, Ph.D., professor of neurology, psychology and psychiatry at Pitt, describes how the various parts of the brain are activated as the artist imagines playing the piece, and how the region of the brain that’s connected to emotions and memories was also active throughout.

Charleston Symphony Orchestra principal cellist, Norbert Lewandowski, participated in and performed for the research. Researchers hope people will be inspired by watching the cellist and seeing what was happening in his brain while he was playing, and be driven to create, study and explore for themselves.

On Saturday, Anto Bagić, M.D., Ph.D., chief of Pitt’s epilepsy division and director of the UPMC Epilepsy Monitoring Unit, will participate in a presentation about the research in Charleston’s Riviera Theatre as part of the Piccolo Spoleto Festival.