Taming the untameable: How to study naturalistic music listening in the brain by means of computational feature extraction
Listening to musical sounds is a brain function that has likely appeared already tens of thousands of years ago, in homo sapiens and perhaps even in Neanderthal ancestors. The peripheral hearing apparatus has taken its shape to decompose sounds by transforming the air pressure waves into ion impulses and by extracting the frequencies in a way similar to a Fourier transform at the level of the basilar membrane in the inner ear. These neuronal codes are then transferred in the several relay stations of the central nervous system up to reaching the primary and non-primary auditory cerebral cortex. The ways those codes for musical sounds are obtained and represented in the cerebral cortex is only partially understood. For investigating this, various stimulation paradigms have been developed, most of them being distant from the naturalistic constantly-varying sound environments in order to maintain strict control over manipulated variables. This controlled approach limits the generalization of findings to real-life listening situations. In our recent studies, we introduced a novel experimental paradigm where participants are simply asked to naturalistically listen to music rather than to perform tasks in response to some artificial sounds. This free-listening paradigm benefits from music information retrieval, since it handles the computationally extracted features from the music as time series variables to be related to the brain signal. Our studies have advanced the understanding of music processing in the brain, demonstrating activity in large-scale networks connecting audio-motor, emotion and cognitive regions of the brain during listening to whole pieces of music.
Professor Elvira Brattico, PhD, is Principal Investigator at the Center for Music in the Brain, a center of excellence funded by the Danish National Research Foundation and affiliated with the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University and The Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg, Aarhus, Denmark. Moreover, in Finland she is Adjunct Professor ("Dosentti") of Biological Psychology at the University of Helsinki and of Music Neuroscience at the University of Jyväaskyläa. She has a background as classical concert pianist in Italy and holds a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience and Brain Research Methods from the University of Helsinki (2007). During her academic career, she has published more than 140 scientific papers, including 2 books and several invited book chapters (e.g., Oxford University Press, Routledge). In her research, she is a recognized world pioneer in music research, particularly with regards to naturalistic music neuroscience combining MIR with brain signal. Moreover, she is a leader in music neuroaesthetics and neuroplasticity studies, as witnessed by her keynote addresses in several international conferences, associate editor appointments (e.g., Frontiers, Psychomusicology, PLOS ONE), and board membership of international scientific societies (e.g., International Association for Empirical Aesthetics, ESCOM Italy, Neuromusic) and training networks (Auditory Neuroscience, CICERO Learning). She also has wide experience with supervision and teaching having given several courses on experimental musicology, cognitive neuroscience, emotions, neurophysiology and brain research methods in Finland, Denmark, Italy and Spain.
More keynotes to be announced soon