The Neurosciences and Music in Leipzig: Registration boom and over 140 posters

April 18, 2005

The second international conference dedicated to The neurosciences and music and their interactions, organized by the Fondazione Mariani Onlus in Leipzig from the 5th to the 8th of May 2005, has already received a surge of enthusiastic registrations from the international scientific community: most of the available spaces have already been reserved, with more than half of the delegates coming from North America, Asia, Africa and Australia. Also, the scientific secretariat has been literally flooded with poster proposals and relevant research project summaries which will be presented throughout the three days of the conference.

The conference has been organized primarily in partnership with the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences of Leipzig and in cooperation with the New York Academy of Sciences. This conference is conceived as the ideal continuation to the two previous meetings on the relation between Music and the Neurosciences: the meeting on "The Biological Foundations of Music", promoted by the New York Academy of Sciences in May 2000, and the international conference dedicated to "Neurosciences and Music" organized in Venice by the Mariani Foundation in October 2002.

The conferences' main theme this year will be the passage from "Perception to Performance", to musical performance in its various components. Four leading specialists on the subject will open the conference with four preparatory Workshops (afternoon of May 5th, 2005) titled Evaluation of musical disorders, Music and Neuroimaging, Music and Development, and Music and Neurophysiology, with the purpose of providing an introductory profile of the current hypotheses, the enquiry tools helping to understand the progress and the results achieved to date.

In addition, seven in-depth sessions and multiple lectures have been scheduled, reflecting the entire international research scenario (from May 6th to 8th). The topics covered will comprise ethology and evolution; music and language; mental representations; developmental aspects and impact of music on education; neurological disorders and music; music performance and the role of emotion in music. Subjects are chosen in as much as they emerge with increasing frequency in scientific literature as elements of common interest across neurology, neurobiology, psychiatry, child neurology.

In order to highlight the most dynamic aspects of these activities, the leading and most representative members of the specialist community have been asked to participate in the various sessions as moderators, and to identify the younger and most promising scientists of their laboratories to present the current state of work in progress, therefore also encouraging the researchers' formation.

An ample session is also dedicated to the numerous posters, selected by the scientific secretariat of the conference; considerable time will be scheduled to discuss session topics and their future perspectives. To this regard, the strong response offered by the scientific community to the initiative promoted by the Foundation should be pointed out: there are over 140 posters, all of which of very high quality. The Foundation has decided to acknowledge the authors of the thirty best posters by awarding free participation to the conference.

The research subjects described in the posters show the quality leap that research has made in this field. Many, in fact, are centered on the study of the "emotional" part of a musical performance from a biological point of view, referred not only to the performing musician, but also to the listening audience. In the last five years, the scientific literature on the relationship between neurosciences and music has witnessed the development and publication of a considerable number of high-level studies of music perception and production as a relevant field of interest to comprehend brain function. These aspects are even more interesting to neuroscientists, in view of the extraordinary progress of functional imaging techniques, that combine temporal and spatial resolution to provide an accurate analysis of the elaboration processes involved in music.

Also of great interest are the sessions focusing on the impact of music on education processes, and development, also in presence of neurological disorders, for example in the area of speech and language.

Furthermore, the topics and lectures dedicated to "music-therapy" - which had been intentionally discussed only marginally at the meeting in Venice - will be highlighted through the presentation of recent "practical" results, where these methods have been successfully applied for several years. The posters, sent to the Foundation, demonstrate the energy enforced towards a scientific validation of research currently in progress, also in this field. During the conference, in fact, a round table will be held on the measures of effectiveness of music-therapy treatment.

The program in Liepzig has been elaborated by the Organizing Committee comprising: Eckart Altenmüller, University for Music and Drama, Hannover; Giuliano Avanzini, National Neurologic Institute "C. Besta", Milan; Angela D. Friederici and Stefan Koelsch, Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig; Maria Majno, Fondazione Pierfranco e Luisa Mariani, Milan; Christo Pantev, Institute for Biomagnetism and Biosignalanalysis, Münster University Hospital - and with the most valuable assistance of two Scientific Advisors of the highest authority: Isabelle Peretz, from the Department of Psychology of the University of Montreal, and Robert J. Zatorre, from the Montreal Neurological Institute and McGill University - and with the support of the Scientific Secretariat of Luisa Lopez, from the Child Neurology Unit of the University of Rome "Tor Vergata".
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The Mariani Foundation plans to organize an international appointment on a three year basis dedicated to these topics, focusing the sessions on the most interesting issues emerged in recent studies. Leipzig has been chosen as the next very appropriate site. It hosts one of Europe's oldest universities (founded in 1409) as well as the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, and remains a musical city "by definition": here Johann Sebastian Bach lived and worked as Thomaskantor for most of his life, and the conference will coincide with the Bach-Fest of May 2005.

Conference registration is available online at www.fondazione-mariani.org, where a preliminary program can also be found.

Those who are interested in receiving printed program and updates or wish to be included in the mailing list, please send their request to neuromusic@fondazione-mariani.org.

Fondazione Mariani Onlus

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