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Notes and Neurons: In Search of the Common Chorus

Is our response to music hard-wired or culturally determined? Is the reaction to rhythm and melody universal or influenced by environment? John Schaefer, scientist Daniel Levitin, and musical artist Bobby McFerrin engage in live performances and cross-cultural demonstrations to illustrate music’s noteworthy interaction with the brain and our emotions.

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John SchaeferRadio Host

John Schaefer is the host and producer of WNYC’s long-running new music show New Sounds, which Billboard magazine has called “the #1 radio show for the Global Village,” founded in 1982, and its innovative Soundcheck podcast, which features live performances and interviews with a variety of guests.

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Daniel LevitinPsychologist, Musician, Author

Daniel J. Levitin is the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neurosciences at McGill University, where he holds associate appointments in the Department of Neurology & Neurosurgery, the Faculty of Education, School of Computer Science, and in the Schulich School of Music.

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Lawrence ParsonsNeuroscientist

Lawrence Parsons is a Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Sheffield in the United Kingdom. His early research on action, spatial reasoning and object recognition was followed by his current work in reasoning, language, emotion and the improvisation of music and dancing.

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Bobby McFerrinMusician

What Bobby McFerrin does is not an act; it’s spontaneous invention. He peers over the edge of the cliff, acknowledges the void below, and dives head first, buoyed by the element of surprise. McFerrin uses dense rhythms, extraordinary scales, and complicated intervals that accomplished musicians and educators have studied and dissected.

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Jamshed BharuchaCognitive Neuroscientist

Jamshed Bharucha conducts research in cognitive psychology and neuroscience, focusing on the cognitive and neural basis of the perception of music. He is a past editor of the interdisciplinary journal Music Perception. Dr. Bharucha is the twelfth president of The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art.

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