David Jangraw


Presentation with Operatic Soprano Renée Fleming at UMW

Last month, I gave a joint presentation and Q&A with renowned operatic soprano Renée Fleming on the neuroscience of music. I had the opportunity to work with Ms. Fleming earlier this year on the NIH/Kennedy Center Sound Health initiative (the subject of an NIH scientific workshop and Kennedy Center event), and we worked closely together on an fMRI scan of her brain as she sang. Our presentation, at the University of Mary Washington in Virginia, covered topics including the parts of the brain involved in music, the effects of musical training on the brain, and attempts to use music therapy to improve outcomes in cases of chronic pain, autism, and Parkinson’s disease. We also discussed the results of Ms. Fleming’s brain scan, and we took questions from the audience of students and community members. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience – thank you to everyone who joined us!

Here are some photos of the event:

 

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Seoul Neural Cartography

This July, I joined Mark Collins and Toru Hasegawa, adjunct professors of Architecture at Columbia University, creators of the Morpholio apps Trace and Board, and founders of the NYC-based Proxy Design Studio, in a project to create “Neural Cartography” maps of Seoul, South Korea for its Arts Biennale. This project, titled “Brainwave Flaneur,” used mobile EEG headsets from startup OpenBCI (previously) to collect EEG data from participants as they sat in various locations around Seoul. I performed the EEG data analysis and produced EEG band-power estimates for each participant in each location. The results are a proof-of-concept example of how EEG’s portability allows neural data to be mapped onto physical locations and real-life experiences.


Kennedy Center Event on Music and the Mind

As part of its Sound Health partnership with the NIH, the Kennedy Center held an event this month called “Sound Health: Music and the Mind.” This two-day public event included musical performances, scientific lectures, and fascinating conversations between musicians, neuroscientists, and music therapists. Highlights included a conversation between NIH Director Francis Collins and former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, a song improvised and performed in 10 minutes by Ben Folds and the National Symphony Orchestra, and a live performance by operatic soprano Renée Fleming in which the background was a video of the fMRI activity recorded from her brain as she sang the same song in the scanner – this was data that I collected and analyzed as part of our scan earlier this year.

Below are some photos from the event and a link to the video of Ben Folds’ composition, which is really worth a watch.

 


HBM 2017 Conference

I am delighted to be attending this year’s Organization for Human Brain Mapping Conference in Vancouver, Canada. I’ll be presenting a poster on Monday and speaking in Wednesday morning’s nanosymposium on Relating Connectivity to Inter- and Intra-Individual Differences in Attention and Cognition. Click here or on the image below for a PDF version of my poster.

Ohbm2017Poster

Update: Here are some pictures from the conference! Thanks to Roselyne Chauvin (@RoselyneChauvin) for this sketch and her others during OHBM!


fMRI Scan with Renée Fleming

This spring, I had the unique opportunity to perform an fMRI scan on renowned operatic soprano Renée Fleming as she sang in the scanner. This was part of the Sound Health partnership between the NIH and Kennedy Center. To answer the question “What is different in Renée’s brain when she is singing than when she is speaking?”, we asked her to sing a few measures from the folk song “The Water is Wide”, then speak the lyrics without the pitches or emotion of singing. We also asked her to imagine singing so that we could observe the brain’s widespread activation even when there is no outward sign of action. The experiment was designed so that the results could be displayed at an upcoming Sound Health event at the Kennedy Center in June.

Update: Videos of the scan are now being released by the Kennedy Center!


Sound Health Workshop on Music and the Brain

As part of the NIH’s Sound Health partnership with the Kennedy Center, the NIH hosted a scientific workshop in January bringing music therapists together with neuroscientists studying the effects of music on the brain. I was delighted to help organize this event as a Staff Assistant to NIH Director Francis Collins.

The two-day event included talks and panel discussions designed to establish the current state of the field, its strengths and weaknesses, and its needs going forward. The results were fascinating and productive – thank you to all the participants! The workshop’s findings and recommendations are now being compiled into a manuscript for publication, in hopes that these recommendations can guide the field in the future.

More information, including the workshop’s agenda and participants, can be found here.

Photos: ERNIE BRANSON, as seen here.