The Monte Verita workshop on Music in Neuroscience, March 2012

March 18 – 23, 2012, Monte Verita, Ascona, Switzerland

Music is processed throughout the brain – humans use auditory cortex to listen to sound and use motor areas to play an instrument; music evokes emotions and therefore touches the limbic system; music is learned by doing and therefore requires cortical plasticity; singing involves speech areas, and so does the ‘understanding’ of melodies in music.

Music is a culturally learned form of communication and shares many parallels with animal forms of communication such as birdsong.

The neuroscientific bases of music can therefore not only be studied in humans using auditory psychophysics and non-invasive measurements of brain activity, but also on a much higher spatial and temporal resolution in songbirds, in which behaviors can be richly manipulated and acoustic measurements can be combined with electrophysiological recordings of single neurons. What ‘tunes’ do neurons play while birds sing?
What happens in humans during singing, playing music, and listening to music?


Our conference will bring together

  • neuroscientists who study hearing and music perception in humans and mammals,
  • neuroscientists who study neural mechanisms of birdsong, and
  • neuroscientists who study the algorithmic structure of music or love to play a musical instrument,

as well as a few professional musicians with an interest in neuroscience.

One of the particularly attractive features of the conference site is that the Center has a grand piano (which will be freshly tuned), and several smaller rooms that are ideal for chamber music in the evenings. So, if you have one, bring your instrument!


Formal sessions will stop at 5pm so as to free plenty of time for informal exchanges.

The number of participants is limited to 68. The registration deadline is DECEMBER 6.

The registration fee of 500 CHF includes lunch, dinner and coffee breaks during the 5 days of the conference.

Hotel costs are 150 CHF per person and night.
(80 CHF for students or PostDocs in a shared two-bed room)

There will be the opportunity to present a poster.