Music as Medicine: December NIH Workshop Featured Ongoing Work of Our Lab

The work of the Vanderbilt Music Cognition Lab was featured many times during the "Music as Medicine" workshop, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and jointly organized by NIH, the NEA, the Renée Fleming Foundation, and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, which took place December 14–15, 2023. The event aimed to highlight accomplishments from the last 6 years in advancing scientific research on music and health, develop a blueprint for the next phase of research, and further build the research community.

Over three thousand viewers attended online with several hundred in-person attendees.   Dr. Francis Collins, former NIH director, highlighted work from our lab as an example of music and medicine work employing big datasets.  The director of the National Institute for Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIDCD) highlighted Dr. Nayak's early career grant to study musicality and hearing, and the director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) highlighted Dr. Lense's grant to study social engagement in autism spectrum disorder.

Dr. Lense spoke about "Social Development in Early Childhood" during the session on "Music Education and Health", while Dr. Gordon spoke about "Genomic Influences on Sensorimotor Synchronization and New Links With Health" during the session on "Future Research Directions".  

Watch Dr. Lense's presentation here (timecode: 5:11:25)watch Dr. Gordon's presentation here (timecode: 1:11:15) and read the full program book here,

"The Shared Biology of Musicality and Language: Framework, Predictions, and Findings" - Dr. Srishti Nayak's Talk with Social Bridges (2/6/2022)

Social BRIDGES 5 Talks (

Using individual differences approaches, a growing body of literature finds positive associations between musical and language-related abilities, complementing prior findings linking musical training with language skills. Despite these associations, musicality is often overlooked as a factor in mainstream models of individual differences in language acquisition and development. To better understand the biological basis of both musicality and language, and how they are intertwined, we have recently proposed the Musical Abilities, Pleiotropy, Language, and Environment (MAPLE) framework, which posits shared genetic architecture, overlapping neural endophenotypes, and shared genetic influences on musically/linguistically enriched environments. In this talk, I will share findings from a synthetic review of over 70 studies demonstrating that individual differences in musical abilities are robustly correlated with language-related skills, and discuss findings in terms of potential underlying biology. I will also outline ongoing and future studies for unraveling the shared genetic architecture of musicality and language, based on testable predictions put forth by the MAPLE framework. These efforts can allow us to leverage our understanding of the biological basis of music, towards better understanding individual differences in language abilities across development.