Contributors: Diana McVeigh, Rami Bakir, Maryam Patel, Steven Tran, Nivethika Jeyakumar, Aria Salehi

Music is a natural and ubiquitous phenomenon that is unique to humans, present in all cultures, and one of the most complex executable behaviours. Therefore, music is a useful tool for understanding human cognition because it engages nearly all the cognitive processes currently understood. Music perception involves several brain areas that become activated in order to integrate a multitude of auditory stimuli, thus resulting in the experience of music.
complex due to the integration of motor and sensory pathways involved. Training of this multi sensory neural network can induce remarkable plasticity in the brain, especially during periods of development in children, as well as in adults.The intensive neural networks resulting from musical training can have beneficial cross-modal effects on the developing brain, including improved verbal functioning and improved memory-based tasks. The effect on verbal functioning may be mediated by the substantial bilateral overlap in processing centres for both music and language.[1] This bilateral overlap has applications to therapy as well as language instruction. The effect of music on memory is highly complex, with different types of musical memory engaging unique representations of neural correlates. Musical memory is not represented symmetrically across the brain. Studies have shown that there is a significant amount of lateralization, with asymmetrical specialization, in processing specific elements of musical stimuli. Not only are there distinctive brain regions responsible for memory types, but different brain regions are also responsible for characterizing diverse types of music such as lyrical and non-lyrical (instrumental). Music has also been empirically shown to affect human emotions and higher cognitive processes. Neuroimaging studies have demonstrated that listening to music strongly activates the limbic and paralimbic emotional areas of the brain, as well as the nucleus accumbens which is involved in motivation and reward processing.[2] Neurological damage to these and other brain regions involved in musical processing can give rise to multiple musical deficits. Musical disorders vary in prevalence; complications such as congenital amusia and musical hallucinations may be common within a population, while others such as musicogenic epilepsy are quite rare. While musical deficiencies can be detrimental to the well being of an individual, studies have shown that music can be used to treat various disorders. This new field of treatment is called musical therapy.

1. Effect of musical training on developing brain (Diana McVeigh)
a. Overview of plasticity in the brain
  • Sensitive period
b. Musical training in children
  • Structural brain differences
  • Behavioral differences
c. Adult musicians vs non-musicians
d. “Mozart Effect”- Exposure of babies and children to music
2. Neurobiological Basis of Musical Memory and Representation (Rami Bakir)
a. Lateralization
  • Rhythm
  • Pitch and Tone
b. Memory and Music
  • Episodic Vs. Semantic Memory and Music
  • Procedural/Implicit Memory and Music
  • Learning, Working Memory, and Music
c. Lyrical Vs. Instrumental Differences in Musical Processing
3. Music and Emotion (Maryam Patel)
a. Properties of music that generate emotion
b. Perception of Music and Pitch in the Primary Auditory Cortex
c. Neural Correlates of Music Generated emotions
c. Effect of music on dopaminergic reward pathway

4. Music and Language (Steven Tran)
a. Structural and Functional overlap of Music and Language processing
b. Tonal Language and Musical training
c. Application to music therapy

5. Musical Disorders (Nivethika Jeyakumar)
a. Musicogenic Epilepsy
b. Congenital Amusia
c. Musical Hallucinations

6. Music Therapy (Aria Salehi)
a. Overview
b. Administration
c. Treatable Conditions

  1. ^
    Schon, D., Gordon, R., Campagne, A., Magne, C., Astesano, C., Anton, J.L., & Besson, M. Similar cerebral networks in language, music and song perception. Neuroimage. (2010). 51(1):450-461.
  2. ^ Koelsch Stefan. Towards a neural basis of music-evoked emotions. Trends in Cognitive Science. (2005). 14(3):131-137.