The past decade in particular has been marked by a dramatic increase in music cognition inquiry, as about 100 laboratory groups around the world, including at Vanderbilt, are working across disciplines to understand music’s relationship to the brain, behavior and health, and to develop effective intervention strategies.
Music is everywhere in modern life, even during quarantine times of Covid-19. Yet individuals vary a lot in their music abilities. In my lab we are particularly focused on studying people’s rhythm skills. Some folks pick up rhythms easily – they can tap in time to the beat, dance, and learn new songs almost effortlessly. Other people may struggle more with rhythm – they may not really hear the beat in music. Across the population, it turns out that there is a huge range of rhythm abilities! Have you ever wondered why this could be?
With schools and daycares closed, many parents are looking for activities to engage in with their young children. As part of the National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab project awarded to the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab in 2018, our Research Lab studies how parent-child musical activities may support families of children with and without developmental disabilities.
Researchers from the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center and the Marcus Autism Center at Emory University School of Medicine are partnering to study musical rhythm synchronization as a part of social development and how it’s disrupted in children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in hopes of developing music interventions for improving social communication.
Dr. Gordon has received a highly competitive New Innovator award, part of the NIH’s High-Risk, High-Reward Research program, given to exceptionally creative scientists proposing to use highly innovative approaches to tackle major challenges in biomedical research. “I am honored and thrilled to be a New Innovator recipient, as this particular project really speaks to my professional mission to work across disciplinary boundaries to enhance our understanding of how and why musicality is related to brain development and human health,” Gordon said.
“We are looking at really broad factors of how we can use music and study music to impact social engagement, emotional well-being and community inclusion for individuals both with and without autism and other developmental disabilities,” said Lense, who is the principal investigator in the studies. “We are bringing together people with different areas of expertise to bring new perspectives to the field of music cognition.”