Symposium to Offer Insight into Music and the Brain

April 12, 2011

Neuroscience with a musical twist is the theme of an upcoming symposium to be held Tuesday, April 26 at the Wake Forest School of Medicine.

The event will be held from noon to 3:30 p.m. in Babcock Auditorium on the Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center campus. The symposium, “Music and the Brain: From Medical Applications to the Neuroscience of Song,” is sponsored by the Western North Carolina Chapter of the Society for Neuroscience (WNCSfN) and highlights the intersection between the arts, neuroscience and clinical knowledge. 

“The symposium provides wonderful integration between our City of the Arts and translational medical research,” said Brian A. McCool, Ph.D, associate professor of physiology and pharmacology at Wake Forest Baptist and president of the Western NC chapter. “In addition to providing a little something for everyone in the Triad, the symposium is a wonderful showcase of our own Medical Center and the neurosciences here in the Medical School.”

Students from area high schools are expected to attend as well as faculty and students from UNC School of the Arts and Wake Forest University among others.

Noted speakers include some of the world’s experts in the area of neuroscience and music.  Each speaker will present for about 40 minutes followed by a brief question-and-answer session. Keynote speaker is Gottfried Schlaug, M.D., Ph.D, from Harvard Medical School. He has used music-based treatments for post-stroke aphasia and to enhance social development in autism spectrum disorders in children.

Other speakers include Donald A. Hodges, B.M.E., M.M. Ph.D, director of the Music Research Institute at UNC-G.  His work has employed modern imaging techniques in musicians and conductors to understand the neural basis of musical creativity.  He recently co-authored “Music and the Human Experience” (Routledge). His colleague, Patricia Gray, B.M., M.M., D.M.A., clinical professor and senior research scientist of BioMusic at UNC-G, is founder and director of the National Musical Arts’ BioMusic program where she leads a distinguished team of scientists and musicians who explore music in all species. Gray is a concert pianist who has moved her interests into the musical aspects of communication in primates. 

Also participating is Wake Forest Baptist’s Jonathan Burdette, M.D., professor of Radiology, who has extensively studied and published on defining functional neural circuits using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and the use of this technology in clinical practice.  Burdette is the co-founder of Wake Forest Baptist’s Laboratory for Complex Brain Networks. He also studies musicians to understand the brain’s complexity and the affects of music on the brain.

WNCSfN is dedicated to promoting education and outreach in the neurosciences and encouraging interaction among neuroscience professionals within the research community. The organization sponsors numerous events, including Brain Awareness Council activitie 

Media Relations

Bonnie Davis:, 336-713-1597