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Home Activities Distinguished Lectures Eckart Altenmüller, Institut für Musikphysiologie und Musiker-Medizin, Germany: Apollo's gift and curse: Acquisition and loss of skilled movements in musicians

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Eckart Altenmüller, Institut für Musikphysiologie und Musiker-Medizin, Germany: Apollo's gift and curse: Acquisition and loss of skilled movements in musicians

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  • Distinguished Lecture
When Feb 12, 2015
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Tanna Schulich Hall, New Music Building, 527 Sherbrooke Street West.
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The lecture will take place in TANNA SCHULICH HALL, followed by a wine and cheese reception in room A832 & A833 (8th floor of the New Music Building).


Sensory-motor skills of musicians have some specific qualities: learning begins at an early age in a playful atmosphere. Routines for stereotyped movements are rehearsed for extended periods of time with gradually increasing degrees of complexity. Via auditory feedback, the motor performance is extremely controllable by both, performer and audience. All movements are strongly linked to emotions – pleasure or anxiety - processed by the limbic system. These specific circumstances seem to play an important role for plastic adaptation at several levels of the central nervous system.

In the lecture, I focus on the functional and anatomical changes of the sensory-motor regions observed in musicians by modern neuroimaging methods. Plastic adaptations of the auditory as well as the sensory-motor system are not only reflected in functional but also in morphological changes. Auditory-sensorimotor integration is accompanied by rapid modulations of neuronal connectivity in the time range of 20 minutes. Finally, dysfunctional plasticity in musicians, known as musicians’ dystonia, leads to deterioration of extensively trained fine finger skills. Risk factors for developing focal dystonia, treatment strategies and strategies for prevention of this condition will be discussed.



eckart Altenmüller

Eckart Altenmüller (MD, MA) is full Professor and Director at the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians' Medicine and the University of Music and Drama, Hanover, Germany.

After graduating in Medicine and Music he held a postdoctoral position in the department of Clinical Neurophysiology in Freiburg where he carried out research into brain activation during auditory processing of music and learning of fine motor skills. He received his clinical training in Neurology at the Department of Neurology at the University of Tübingen (Head of the Department Prof. Dr. J. Dichgans). Since 1994 he is a chair and director of the Institute of Music Physiology and Musicians’ Medicine. He continues research into movement disorders in musicians and into motor and sensory learning as well as in the effects of music on emotions.

During the last ten years he received 20 grants from the German Research Society (DFG). He has published 159 peer reviewed original articles and 119 articles in books. Major awards are: Fellow of the Deutsche Studienstiftung, Young Scientists Award of the German Physiological Society 1984, Kornmüller-Award of the German Society for Clinical Electrophysiology for EEG-Research 1992, Richard Lederman Lecture, Aspen 1999, Member of the Faculty of the European Forum Alpbach 1999, Otto Creutzfeldt Lecture of the German Neuroscience Society 2003, Member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences 2005, President of the German Society for Music Physiology and Musician’s Medicine from 2005-2011, since 2011 Vice-President, Science Award of the Country of Lower Saxony 2013. 




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