SiCa Center for Arts, Science and Technology    

Winter Quarter 2009-2010
Stanford University


2010 FORUM TALKS Schedule


All events will take place on the CCRMA Stage

January 11, 2010 - 5:30 PM

"Music and Biological Evolution"

A talk exploring music as a biologically powerful invention, or "transformative technology of the mind"

Aniruddh D. Patel Ph.D.
Esther J. Burnham Senior Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology, The Neurosciences Institute

Music puzzled Darwin because it is ubiquitous in human culture, yet serves no obvious biological function. Darwin theorized that music evolved via processes of sexual selection, and began a tradition of adaptationist theorizing about music that continues to this day. Skeptics (including William James and Steven Pinker) have countered that music is a byproduct of our intelligent brains and is biologically useless. Modern discussions of the evolution of music are dominated by this "adaptation vs. byproduct" debate. I will argue that neither of these alternatives is supported by research on music and the brain. I believe that current research supports a different theoretical perspective which views music as a biologically powerful invention, or "transformative technology of the mind."


February 8, 2010 - 5:30 PM

"Neurobiological Foundations for the Theory of Harmony in Western Tonal Music"

Mark Tramo MD, Ph.D.
Director, The Institute for Music & Brain Science
Associate Professor of Neurology, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Adjunct Professor of Music, Herb Alpert School of Music at UCLA
Faculty Fellow, Harvard University Mind Brain & Behavior Interfaculty Initiative
Research Affiliate, M.I.T. Research Laboratory of Electronics


March 1, 2010 - 5:30 PM

"Music, Memories, and the Brain"

A talk exploring music-evoked autobiographical memories and associated emotions

Petr Janata, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, UC Davis Psychology Department Center for Mind and Brain

Music-evoked autobiographical memories and associated emotions are poignant examples of how music engages the brain. Janata binds music theory, cognitive psychology, and computational modeling to generate intuitive animations of music moving about in tonal space (the system of major and minor keys). He then shows how the unique tonal movements of individual excerpts of popular music can be used in conjunction with neuroimaging experiments to identify brain networks that support the experiencing of memories and emotions evoked by the music.