Episode 54: Indre Viskontas on Music and the Brain

July 8, 2019 | ,

It doesn’t mean much to say music affects your brain — everything that happens to you affects your brain. But music affects your brain in certain specific ways, from changing our mood to helping us learn. As both a neuroscientist and an opera singer, Indre Viskontas is the ideal person to talk about the relationship between music and the brain. Her new book, How Music Can Make You Better, digs into why we love music, how it can unite and divide us, and how music has a special impact on the very young and the very old.

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Indre Viskontas received her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience at UCLA. She is currently a Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, and an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco. She is also Creative Director of the Pasadena Opera, Director of Vocallective, and host of the Inquiring Minds and Cadence podcasts. She served as the co-host for the documentary series Miracle Detectives, and has produced lecture series for The Great Courses. Her opera performances include roles in Mozart, Puccini, and others.

7 thoughts on “Episode 54: Indre Viskontas on Music and the Brain”

  1. Arthur Dent, Deepthought-42

    Great podcast, to paraphrase philosopher Susanne Langer, meaning in music came became meaning in words.
    Langer further opined, music reveals the nature of feelings with detail and truth that language often cannot approach. Knowledge before words is an intriguing philosophical challenge.

  2. Kilgore Trout

    Sadly, Sean was unable to insert the fact into the conversation that Brian May, lead guitarist for Queen, recently published his doctoral thesis on solar system dust in book form but with pictures. Another one bites the dust.

  3. This was sheer pleasure. I will definitely check out “Inquiring Minds” and “Cadence”.

  4. Jeffrey Clarke

    Late 70s YES concert. When the doors were opened, a strobed, low frequency pulse was played. (I assume Roger Dean was responsible).

    The effect was almost the same as a light strobe. The hall had a large set of stairs down to the floor. (Back in the days of general standing type seating.) I was the second person through the doors. The audio strobe made me feel, and see an effect that was the “stop action” effect of a light strobe.

    Eh, maybe it was a combo effect of the ganja and the audio strobe…

  5. Fátima Pereira

    Bem, decididamente vou aprender a tocar um instrumento musical! Já tarde, mas….
    Interesante, neuroplasticidade, e, seu lado escuro, distonia focal!
    O núcleo caudado e aumento de dopamina, aquando antecipação de algo que nos proporciona prazer, ou, algo mau!
    “A arte pode ajudar a direcionar a neurociencia” _ gostei!
    Pesquisei Indre Viskontas, opera _ cinco estrelas!
    Obrigada, Sean Carroll, e, Indre Viskontas

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Sean Carroll hosts conversations with the world's most interesting thinkers. Science, society, philosophy, culture, arts, and ideas.

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