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Music, emotion and memory, in the opening of NeuroConcerts

NeuroConcerts aims at disseminating the importance of the brain and the nervous system in musical experiences.

NeuroConcerts aims at disseminating the importance of the brain and the nervous system in musical experiences.



Next Thursday, 4th April, at 7 p.m., the Paranymph Hall of the UB Historic Building hosts the first concert of the nine planned within the project NeuroConcerts, a series which aims at disseminating the importance of the brain and the nervous system in musical experiences, by means of a debate among musicologists and neuroscientists and live music.
The first NeuroConcert is entitled “Banda sonora original: música, emoció i memoria” (Original soundtrack: music, emotion and memory). Brain circuits and mechanisms of emotion and memory will be analysed as well as the mutual influence between music and personal memories. The activity is conducted by the neuroscientist Judith Domínguez Borràs, from the University of Geneva, and the expert on music Joaquim Rabaseda, lecturer from the Higher School of Music of Catalonia (ESMUC), accompanied by the musicians Manel Camp (piano), Horacio Fumero (double bass) and Matthew Simon (trumpet), who will offer a live performance. Perfecto Herrera, lecturer at ESMUC, moderates the discussion. The opening event will be attended by the rector of the UB, Dr Dídac Ramírez; the director of the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT), José Ignacio Fernández Vera; the vice-rector for Institutional Relations and Culture, Dr Lourdes Cirlot, and the director of ESMUC, Josep Borràs.

NeuroConcerts are part of a wider initiative entitled NeuroUB: Neuroscience, Music and Art, a science disseminating project born to celebrate the designation of the year 2012 as the Year of Neuroscience in Spain and aims at fostering the social interest in neurosciences.

Our body interprets musical experience and the brain uses some specific codes to give sense and order each perception. The complexity of used systems makes their study one of the most interesting challenges in the field of neurosciences. To understand the mechanism by which music produces certain emotions and feelings is a fascinating objective for neurosciences.



Why do some melodies stay in our memory? Why do we feel the need to dance when we hear a song? Why do some melodies relax us, other active us, or sadden us, or make us feel happy? Why do we select a soundtrack for our lives? All these questions will be discussed during the different sessions planned within NeuroConcerts. They will take place at 7 p.m. (except the last one, which will take place at 8 p.m.) in several stages, in April, May and June.

On 11th April, the second session entitled “Ús i abús: música, percepció i persuasion” (Use and abuse: music, perception and persuasion) will happen in Cinemes Girona in Barcelona (173 Girona Street). From some examples, the neuroscientist Manuel Garcia Garcia (NeuroFocus, San Francisco) and the expert in music Rubén López Cano (ESMUC) will discuss whether or not ads’ music influences our brain activity and promotes certain behaviours. The activity will be accompanied by the music played by Cento Carbó (drums), Jordi Rodríguez (percussion), Cris Ases (voice) and Guillem Torà (guitar).


On 17th April, the Paranymph Hall of the Historic Building will host the NeuroConcert “Ludwig, em sents? Música, composició i imaginació” (Ludwig, do you hear me? Music, composition and imagination). It will analyse how Beethoven was able to continue composing when he turned deaf. This session, in which UB Orchestra will set the music, will illustrate how sounds are represented in the brain, and the process of perceiving musical compositions will be presented to the audience by means of the explanations given by the main researcher of the project, the neuroscientist Carles Escera, and the expert in music from ESMUC Sofía Martínez.

On 2nd May, the Cor room of ESMUC (155 Padilla Street) will host the fourth session “Xarxes socials, xarxes neuronals: música, cervell i cultura” (Social networks, brain networks: music, brain and culture). The ethnomusicologist Sílvia Martínez (ESMUC) will tackle the relations between culture and music, and the influence on social relations, and the neuroscientist Manuel Martín Loeches (Complutense University of Madrid) will describe social cognition processes in musical production and perception.

On 16th May, some members of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band, led by Joan Chamorro, will set music to the NeuroConcert “Arpegis neuronals: educació musical i plasticitat cerebral” (Brain arpeggio: music education and neuroplasticity). The session will deal with the processes of music teaching explained from the point of view of the expert on music Javier Duque and the neuroscientist from Pablo de Olavide University in Seville José María Delgado García.

The Cor room of ESMUC will host, on 30th May, the concert “Ressonància mútua: cervell i improvisació musical i corporal” (Mutual resonance: brain and musical and body extemporization), in which the neuroscientist José Luis Cantero, from Pablo de Olavide University, will speak about brain networks involved in extemporization. A transgressor view of extemporization will be presented through several musical and body languages. A jazz trio and the dancer Ester Momblant will offer a performance.

On 13th June, the Anaglifos Events Room (17 Mònec Street) will host the session “Sonates i ragues: el cervell davant la música clàssica a Orient i Occident” (Sonatas and ragas: the brain and the Western and Eastern classical music). Is Western classical music created and perceived in the same manner than Indian classical one? Those present will be able to experience it by the live performance of an Indian trio and to discover the latest advances in neurosciences thanks to the speech given by the neuroscientist Jordi Costa Faidella (Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging Laboratory of the Nathan Kline Institute, New York) and the expert on music from ESMUC Horacio Curti.

On 20th June, the Anaglifos Events Room will also host the concert “Paracetamúsica: teràpia musical en patologia psicològica i neurològica” (Paracetamusic: musical therapy in psychological and neurological disorders). Music has rhythm and an emotional element that strongly impact on our body and mind. A musicotherapist and a neuroscientist will discuss the applications of musicotherapy.

Finally, the last NeuroConcert of the series “Vibracions simpàtiques: música, cervell i ball” (Friendly vibrations: music, brain and dance) will happen on 27th June, at 8 p.m. Music is perceived by the body, and even if we do not move, the motor cortex of the brain is active. In this session the brain processes involved in body dimension of music will be discovered by the Manics Band, the neuroscientist Anne-Lenka Selinger and the expert in music Rubén López Cano.

The project NeuroUB is divided into three parts: the NeuroConcerts, the NeuroCinema, in which films were the means to discuss some remarkable neuroscientific concepts, and and the NeuroConcurs, an initiative in which everyone can participate.

NeuroUB has been co-organised by the Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behavior (IR3C), the Scientific Culture and Innovation Unit (UCC+i) of the Communication Unit of the University of Barcelona, and the Higher School of Music of Catalonia (ESMUC). The initiative has been supported by the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology (FECYT) - Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, the Secretary for Universities and Research of the Government of Catalonia, and the Office of the Vice-Rector of Institutional Relations and Culture of the UB.

Seats are limited, so it is necessary to previously book and confirm attendance by means of the form available on the website of the project.



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