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Home Activities Distinguished Lectures Laurel Trainor, McMaster University, Canada: "Musical origins: Processing temporal and spectral patterns in infancy"

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Laurel Trainor, McMaster University, Canada: "Musical origins: Processing temporal and spectral patterns in infancy"

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This Distinguished Lecture is co-sponsored by BRAMS.

  • Distinguished Lecture
When Oct 25, 2007
from 04:30 PM to 06:00 PM
Where Strathcona Music Building, 555 Sherbrooke St. West, Clara Lichtenstein Recital Hall (C-209)
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Music is universal across human societies past and present, but as with languages, it varies considerably across cultures.  I will present work showing that very young infants are sensitive to some aspects of musical pitch structure such as consonance and dissonance and perceptual constancy in the form of relative pitch, while sensitivity to musical system-specific scale structure and harmony takes some time to develop. In the rhythm domain, I will present work showing that young infants extract metrical structure, and showing interactions between movement and rhythm. Finally, I will present event-related potential studies showing that the auditory cortex undergoes tremendous maturation between 2 and 6 months of age, and that specific musical experience in childhood affects how the brain develops.

trainorLaurel Trainor (Ph.D., Psychology, University of Toronto) is a professor in the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour and the Director of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind.  She has published over 60 pioneering research articles and book chapters on the neuroscience of auditory development and the perception of music, appearing in journals such as Science, Psychological Science, and the Journal of Neuroscience.  Her research also has one of the highest media profiles of researchers at McMaster. In 2006 she was ranked by Cormex in the Top 30 Most Frequently-Used Academic Experts in Canada. Her studies show that young infants already have multi-sensory connections between auditory and movement areas of the brain, and that they are like adults in preferring consonant chords compared to dissonant chords.  At the same time, Trainor and her colleagues have found that brain responses to sound do not reach adult maturation until about 18 years of age, and that the brains of music students mature differently than the brains on students not taking music lessons.  These studies suggest that music can have a profound effect on how the brain gets wired up.  Her 2005 study of rhythm processing in infants was rated as one of the top 10 papers by the Centre of Excellence for Early Childhood Development.  Her work on the effects of musical training on the brain was rated by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council as one of the top 50 scientific discoveries of 2006.  Trainor also has a Bachelor of Music Performance from the University of Toronto, loves playing chamber music, and is currently principal flute of Symphony Hamilton. 



APA video citation:

Trainor, L. (2014, June 6). Musical origins: Processing temporal and spectral patterns in infancy -

CIRMMT Distinguished Lectures in the Science and Technology of Music. [Video file].

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