Sigma Xi Orange County Chapter

January 17th, 2012

Lecture: “The Biological Significance of Human Music.”

Music has great cultural and aesthetic significance in human life, but what is its biological significance? Traditionally, this question has been approached as an evolutionary question, commencing with Darwin's speculations on the topic in The Descent of Man. The advent of modern neuroscience is bringing a new perspective to evolutionary questions about human music, and also reveals that music can play a powerful role in shaping human brain function within individual lifetimes.

Aniruddh D. Patel, Ph.D.

Aniruddh D. Patel, Ph.D., is the Esther J. Burnham Senior Fellow at The Neurosciences Institute, San Diego. He attended the University of Virginia as a Jefferson Scholar where he received his B.A. in Biology, continued his studies under E. O. Wilson at Harvard where he received his Ph.D. in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology, then continued as a Postdoctoral Fellow at The Neurosciences Institute.

He was both a National Science Foundation Fellow and a McDonnell-Pew Fellow in Cognitive Neuroscience. He received the 2008 ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for his book Music, Language and the Brain. He is President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition.

Dr. Patel’s work focuses on the relationship between music and language, and how the comparative studies of these uniquely human abilities can shed light on their underlying cognitive and neural mechanisms. He also conducts research on the processes by which humans extract rhythmic information from auditory signals and uses magnetoencephalography to explore brain dynamics during the perception of musical sequences to determine how the auditory cortex processes sound sequences.

The Neurosciences Institute has a video of Dr. Patel's talk, Music and the Mind, on how music and brain science can learn from one another.