Sunday, June 08, 2008

Good vibrations at science festival?

Currently I am at the Cheltenham Science Festival in England, an annual five-day ‘feast of debate, delight and entertainment’, as the organizers promote it.

And indeed, it is quite an extraordinary initiative: a festival with an attendance that can easily be compared to a popular jazz or pop festival. Next to numerous one-hour lectures, there were several panels, debates, and presentations by scientists like Steven Pinker, Richard Dawkins and Martin Rees.

Yesterday night I presented, together with neuroscientist Martin Coath (Plymouth University), the results of our European EmCAP research consortium on music cognition. All this under the, admittedly, somewhat smooth title ‘Good Vibrations’.

Martin Coath, a gifted speaker and FameLab finalist, got a large crowd enthusiastically doing a live experiment on relative pitch, and I presented our latest research on the similarities in listening skills between expert musicians and ‘ordinary’ listeners. Furthermore, we gave a preview of some of the preliminary results of collaborative work done with the research team of Istvan Winkler (Budapest) on, e.g., the sensitivity for rhythm and beat induction in babies of just one or two days old.
N.B. More on this at the end of this month when we will present the actual results at the Neuroscience & Music Conference in Montreal.

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