FanFaire celebrates SCIENCE!
SCIENCE + MUSIC = ADVENTURES into the LABYRINTHS of the BRAIN






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GENE MUSIC:
FanFaire at the San Diego
Science Festival 2010


SCIENCE & MUSIC
in ANCIENT TIMES

FanFaire at the SAN DIEGO SCIENCE FESTIVAL - 2009

NIFTY FIFTY LECTURE

SCIENCE & MUSIC at the
NEUROSCIENCES INSTITUTE


MINDING THE ARTS



BOOKS BY DR. EDELMAN:

SECOND NATURE:
BRAIN SCIENCE
and HUMAN KNOWLEDGE


A UNIVERSE OF CONSCIOUSNESS
How Matter Becomes Imagination


WIDER THAN THE SKY:
The Phenomenal Gift of Consciousness


BRIGHT AIR, BRILLIANT FIRE:
On The Matter Of The Mind


REMEMBERED PRESENT:
A Biological Theory Of Consciousness


NEURAL DARWINISM

THE BRAIN


by ANIRUDDH PATEL
MUSIC, LANGUAGE and THE BRAIN

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The NEUROSCIENCES INSTITUTE in La Jolla, CA
- where world-class SCIENCE intersects with MUSIC

"There is no other place like this in the world."
- Dr. Gerald M. Edelman, Founder and Director of the Neurosciences Institute



Photo credits:  B&W, © Melissa Marquardt; Color: © FanFaire.com

The words Dr. Edelman spoke at the Institute's opening in 1995 ring as true today. The Institute is a very special place now as it was then - and in more ways than one. Let's count the ways. 

First, the most visible - the architectural revelation that unfolds as one walks eastward or westward from any of several undefined entry points into what is obviously a very thoughtfully designed space.*  As the color photos above show--which were recently taken on a busy working day-- the Institute, snugly carved into a hillside slope and quietly hidden from street view, today stands in subdued magnificence, as pristine as on the day of its unveiling. (And you can take our word for it; we were there at the opening.) The elegantly landscaped, sun-drenched central plaza and the trio of buildings encircling it together make up a highly nuanced geometric wonder of concrete, stone and glass.  A perfect picture of balance, harmony and serenity - befitting the "scientific monastery" the Institute was designed to be.

On one side, behind a panel of tinted blue glass is the building for experiment; on the other side, jutting out above the rest of complex in cantilevered splendor, the building for theory; and between them,  the cube-like centerpiece - the building for community, the auditorium where the Institute's high priests of brain science gather to share their enlightened discoveries among themselves or with guests from the "outside world."

Second, the AUDITORIUM - noted for its superb acoustics which was designed by the eminent Cyril Harris, who counts the Metropolitan Opera, Avery Fisher Hall, and the Kennedy Center among his brilliant achievements. Name another scientific research center in the world that can match this seemingly perplexing devotion to MUSIC, or which would purposely showcase the world-acclaimed JULLIARD STRING QUARTET as the centerpiece of its inaugural celebration as the Institute did.  But be dumbfounded no more!  Dr. Edelman is a classically trained violinist (who briefly considered becoming a concert soloist, but realizing he lacked the requisite extroverted temperament, turned to medicine and science instead).  He also once chaired a symposium on the scientific basis of stringed instruments. The promise of an acoustically superior hall was reportedly the lure for Dr. Edelman's Westward move to La Jolla from New York (where the Institute was born in the 1980s). Thus there is a rhyme-and-reason for why the Neurosciences Institute has, in Cyril Harris' own words, "the finest small concert hall in the world!"

And you will soon agree, it is all for the good. Today, the Auditorium is one of the ways by which the Institute reaches out to the local community. Through its unique program, “Performing Arts at The Neurosciences Institute,” the hall is made available without charge to many distinguished arts and educational organizations in San Diego County for concerts and educational presentations. It is a great service to the community and a most eloquent affirmation of the  belief that the Arts are as important an endeavor as Science.  By encouraging and supporting music and the other performing arts in this way, the Institute, among whose research fellows are music enthusiasts and amateur musicians, underscores the special relationship between the ARTS and the HUMAN BRAIN.

Photo courtesy: Neurosciences Institute

Third, but by no means the least important - the nature of the research being pursued at the Institute, its reason for being. The focus is the HUMAN BRAIN, about which so little is understood even today relative to the rest of the human anatomy. No small wonder that it is called the "final frontier" of scientific discovery.

Scientists at the Institute conduct experimental and theoretical research at the most basic level in order to gain a greater understanding of how a healthy brain functions. This could eventually shed light on the dysfunctions that cause devastating neurological diseases and reveal insights that could lead to cures or solutions to these problems, as well as other practical applications. But ultimately, what they seek to unravel are the profound mysteries of mind (How do we think? What is memory? How do we feel? etc.), consciousness (What enables man to be conscious that he is conscious?) and human individuality (What in the end makes a human human? What makes each person unique?).  

An interesting, highly specialized area of research being actively pursued at the Institute involves MUSIC and the BRAIN, or the neuroscientific study of music, also sometimes called the scientification of music. It is a relative new area of study, but already Aniruddh Patel, Esther J. Burnham Senior Fellow at the Institute, has published a book on the subject.  Entitled "Music, Language, and the Brain" it has been widely acclaimed for its "scholarship, clarity and humility." BUY THE BOOK

It is believed that results of these studies can enhance our understanding of brain function and provide answers to such questions as: Is music akin to language in terms of brain function? Is music, like language as some believe, an evolutionary adaptation, i.e., does it play a special role in the survival of the species? Why is man apparently the only species capable of perceiving rhythm or beat, in other words - dancing? Is there a neurological basis for so-called music therapy? Is tone-deafness a result of a brain dysfunction? What goes on in the brain when one makes music or listens to music? Why do some kinds of music make us cry and others make us happy? Is a musician's brain different from a non-musician's? Is the "Mozart Effect" for real, i.e., does making or listening to music make one smarter? And the list can go on and on... But one thing is clear: there's definitely more to music than meets the ear. 

And all of the above proves that yes, Dr. Edelman, there is no other place in the world like the Neurosciences
Institute! -GCajipe / FanFaire



* by New York-based Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects

Photo credits:  B&W photo, © Melissa Marquardt; Color Photos: © FanFaire.com

FanFaire Foundation
Mission: To promote MUSIC as a tool for teaching SCIENCE
SCIENCE + MUSIC! = ADVENTURE + FUN!


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