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Vanderbilt to host conference of leading music cognition researchers

Jul. 30, 2015, 9:13 AM

Hundreds of the world’s leading music cognition researchers are coming to Nashville from Saturday, Aug. 1, to Wednesday, Aug. 5, as Vanderbilt plays host to the biennial meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition.

The event begins with a kickoff from 1 to 7 p.m., Aug. 1, at Ingram Hall at the Blair School of Music. Music researchers will mix with music industry professionals and enjoy a live musical performance from the duo So We Are, which features New York University neuroscientist Joe LeDoux, Ph.D., and Irish singer-songwriter Colin Dempsey.

“We are thrilled to welcome some of the world’s foremost experts on music cognition to Music City,” said Ron Eavey, M.D., director of the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and the Guy M. Maness Professor and chair of Otolaryngology. “This is a fantastic learning opportunity for students, faculty, researchers and clinicians, as well as music performers.”

Scholars from across Vanderbilt will present four-minute “lightning talks,” quick overviews of recent and ongoing music-related research and clinical treatment of musicians. The keynote speaker is Charles Limb, M.D., who will discuss what happens in the brain while musicians are improvising.

After the kickoff event, the conference will move Sunday to the Scarritt Bennett Center, 1008 19th Ave. South, for four days of sessions.

The event’s sponsors include the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, Vanderbilt Brain Institute, Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, The Ploger Method at the Blair School of Music, and the recently created Program for Music, Mind and Society at Vanderbilt.

The co-chairs of the event are Elisabeth Dykens, Ph.D., director of the Kennedy Center and the Annette Schaffer Eskind Professor, and Reyna Gordon, Ph.D., a research fellow in the Department of Otolaryngology and at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center who recently published research linking a child’s ability to distinguish musical rhythm to understanding grammar.

“Connecting the larger music cognition field to our Vanderbilt community is a dream come true for me,” said Gordon, who has planned the event for two years. “We have people coming from 20 countries.”

For more information about Saturday’s kickoff event, go here. More information about the field of music cognition is available at

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