Posts Tagged ‘Neuroscience’

Creativity, Music and the Brain

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

What is the role of music in UK society? What happens to our brains when we listen to music? Can music help to heal the brain in physical and mental disorders? What does the musician’s brain teach us about neuroplasticity? What can we learn from a composer such as Chopin and from modern composers and musicians? 

Creativity, music and the brain: The power of music over the mind is the Royal Society of Medicine’s AGM and annual dinner, held on Tuesday 13 May 2014

Early bird tickets are now on sale here, where you can also find all the details of this fascinating event.

Event Report – When The Artist’s Body Says No: Stress and the Mind-Body Unity in Health and Disease

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Jennie Morton reports from the recent PAMA event held in Toronto, 16th/17th February 2013.

Jennie’s attendance at the event was supported by BAPAM through our Research and Education Bursury Fund.

WHEN THE ARTIST’S BODY SAYS NO: Stress and the Mind-Body Unity in Health and Disease


Jennie Morton BSc (Hons) Osteopathy
UCL Honorary Lecturer, MSc Performing Arts Medicine

I recently attended the PAMA regional meeting at the beautiful Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, Canada, hosted by PAMA President, Dr John Chong. This was a two-day event packed with a variety of speakers presenting on a wide range of health-related topics from the world of dance and music. The first presenter was Gary Galbraith from Case Western Reserve University who took us through his “Dancer/ Musician Wellness Project”, a wonderfully comprehensive software package providing health screening for both student and professional performers. This software enables teachers and health professionals to make targeted pre-training or pre-season recommendations for individual performers and to monitor training/ performing exposure and track injury rates. They are offering the package free to training establishments and dance companies worldwide.

Another highlight was Laurel Trainor, PhD a Professor of Psychology, whose research has shown that infants as young as 4 months old can tell the difference between dissonance and consonance and will already show a preference for consonance at this age – fascinating! She has also shown that the brains of music students mature differently to those not studying music suggesting that music has a profound effect on brain wiring. This has far-reaching implications for the study of neurological development.

The keynote speech was delivered by the wonderful Dr Gabor Maté, author of the book “When The Body Says No” for which the conference was named. He spoke about the mento-emotional aspects of disease making particular reference to the high-stress environments encountered by performers and the role this can play in their health. He read a particularly moving excerpt from his book concerning the life of the great cellist Jacqueline Du Pré and her battle and subsequent death aged 28 from the effects of multiple sclerosis. While still a teenager, she had apparently confided to her sister that she knew that being a professional cellist would kill her because of the pressures of high expectations of others – a poignant premonition and one to be borne in mind by those involved in the care and training of young prodigies.

We were also very fortunate to hear from some industry icons who shared their experiences of injury in an extremely candid and moving panel discussion. They included the acclaimed contemporary dancer Peggy Baker, Grammy-nominated saxophonist Jane Bunnett and Stephen Sitarski, renowned violinist and Concert Master of the Hamilton Philharmonic. Their frank and highly emotional accounts of their journeys with injury and depression tugged at the heart-strings of the entire audience and really served to highlight the often-hidden agonies behind the mask of performance.

I was also fortunate enough to have been invited to present a workshop on the musician/ instrument interface and was joined by a 16 year-old violin student, who is something of a child prodigy, to act as my model. We were treated to her extraordinarily talented playing whilst I made recommendations for postural adjustments – a fun, interactive hour! On the final day, I was also a member of a panel discussion on wellness strategies for student dancers and musicians, the panel being comprised of three health professionals and three teachers. We discussed the need for a multi-disciplinary approach in supporting the health of students and ensuring open lines of communication between health practitioners and teachers.

This two-day event as packed with excellent ideas and strategies to ensure the continuing good work in performing arts medicine is reaching the people who need it and served as an excellent networking forum for performers, teachers and health practitioners alike. I’m delighted to have been invited back to speak at this event again next year and look forward to keeping up this very important dialogue.

The Performing Brain

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Friday March 16th: Neurology advisor to BAPAM (and keen musician!), Dr Mark Edwards, will take part in The Performing Brain, a fun, interactive evening presented by the Science team at the British Library and UCL Neuroscience, involving researchers from the UCL Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience and the UCL Institute of Neurology.

Have you ever wondered how a ballerina learns to pirouette? Or how musicians learn their art? Or even what happens to your own brain when you learn a new skill?

Join neuroscientists, musicians and dancers as together we explore how fantastically plastic your brain is, giving you the extraordinary ability to adapt and learn throughout your life.

More information and tickets here.