Dylan H. – BASIS Flagstaff

BASIS Flagstaff Senior Dylan H.

Music and Language Cognition in the Left and Parietal Lobe

Project/blog link: Music and Language Cognition in the Left and Parietal Lobe
BASIS Advisor: Hunter Jecius
Internship location: UC San Francisco
Onsite Mentor: Edward Chang, MD, Co-Director, Center for Neural Engineering at UC Berkeley and San Francisco

Project Abstract

Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience, and senses. We currently know that the left temporal lobe is important for speech, naming and verbal memory specifically, but what about in music? My research will assess music cognition in my own left temporal and parietal lobes, using several experiments conducted on my own brain from surgery I underwent at UCSF to cure my epileptic condition. In the first experiment, I helped design tests to ensure the surgery would not impede my ability to play piano, using a cortical stimulation. This technique sends electric impulses through a grid of electrodes laid out on the brain, the same electrodes that measure the brain's electrical activity. While I played simple pieces I knew well, parts of the temporal and parietal lobes were individually subjected to electrical stimulation to attempt to provoke mistakes. Now, we must evaluate which loci caused which mistakes. We hypothesize that the motor cortex is the main area where mistakes were caused, but we also suspect that other parts of the brain, like Broca’s and Wernicke’s areas, as well as areas in the sensory cortex may also provoke mistakes when disrupted. In another experiment, I played Chopin and Bach, first with the sound on, hearing the music, then with the sound off, imagining the music. This research will help us learn where in the brain is important for musicality, and hopefully lead us to helping musicians improve.

Music and Language Cognition in the Left and Parietal Lobe