Music Neuroscience Training in Canada

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I had a fantastic opportunity to visit the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario to train in Dr Jessica Grahn’s Music and Neuroscience Lab as part of my PhD in Music and Dyslexia. I am particularly interested in auditory-motor connectivity and rhythm; two areas in which Dr Grahn’s group specialises and that are highly relevant to my own research. This was also an excellent opportunity for me to work within a music neuroscience team.

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During my time at Western I have been able to attend numerous talks, journal club meetings and lab meetings about music and the brain, which has been a huge learning opportunity for me. I have learnt new skills in functional MRI data processing and analysis that will complement my own structural brain connectivity work in Edinburgh. I also had the opportunity to visit their Gait Lab, which explores the use of auditory cueing to facilitate gait in Parkinson’s patients. This was particularly interesting to me as my undergraduate dissertation contained a review of similar work in relation to stroke, so it was great to see this research in action. The whole experience of being part of a music neuroscience team, working in a lab environment and being in a different country was extremely valuable to me.

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In addition to visiting the Brain and Mind Institute, I was also invited to give a lecture on ‘The Musical Brain’ on the Third and Fourth Year Music Psychology course offered by the Don Wright Faculty of Music, which is one of the largest music departments in Canada with a wide range of expertise. I was able to share some of my own work in Edinburgh and my experiences of interdisciplinary working between music and neuroscience.

Outside of work I took the opportunity to fully enjoy the Western experience, joining the salsa society, experiencing my first (American) football game and of course enjoying pancakes with maple syrup.

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I would like to thank the Principal’s Go Abroad Fund for helping to make this visit possible and everyone at Western who helped to make me feel so welcome. I am looking forward to continuing with my training and to speaking at the inaugural symposium of the Musical Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL) collaboration that has recently been established between the Brain and Mind Institute and the Don Wright Faculty of Music at Western.