Visiting lecture on Thu 12.1.2017 at 10-12 Prof. Jessica Grahn "Feeling the beat: rhythm, movement, and the brain"

Feeling the beat: rhythm, movement, and the brain

Assoc. Prof. Jessica Grahn
Brain and Mind Institute and the Department of Psychology
Western University, Ontario

Time: Thursday, January 12, 2017, @ 10-12Place: Boombox, Musica


Moving to musical rhythm is an instinctive, often involuntary activity, but how does the brain produce this behaviour? In this talk I will describe how perception of musical rhythms activates motor brain areas even when no overt movement is made. I will cover brain stimulation studies that assess the causal role of motor areas in rhythm perception, and also discuss individual differences in rhythmic ability, examining how motor and auditory activity relate to important behavioural components of rhythm ability.


Dr. Jessica Grahn is a cognitive neuroscientist who studies music, specializing in rhythm. A major focus of her work has been how the brain areas that control movement respond when we hear rhythm, even if we are sitting still. Many of her studies examine the neural mechanisms of beat  perception. Her lab also investigates how music affects cognitive abilities, such as memory or reasoning. She also tests patients with Parkinson's disease to examine how musical rhythm may help problems with walking. Dr. Grahn has degrees in Neuroscience and Piano Performance from Northwestern University, as well as a PhD from Cambridge, England, in the Neuroscience of Music. She joined the Psychology department and Brain and Mind Institute at Western in 2011. Jessica has received the Charles Darwin Award in Public Communication of Science from the British Science Association. She also has an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario government, a New Investigator Award from CIHR, and an Understanding Human Cognition Award from the McDonnell Foundation. Her research is currently funded by CIHR, NSERC, SSHRC, Parkinson Society Canada, and the Grammy foundation.