Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Come Dance with Me: Movement Control in Brain and Body. McMaster Institute for Music and the\ Mind NeuroMusic Conference

A few weeks ago, I experienced my first taste of true academia a poster session!! This may not be the most glamorous or significant achievement in a student/researchers career, but as it was my first contribution to the scientific world, it was pretty meaningful!

The conference started off with 2 great talks from Dr. Gammon Earhart and Dr. Jessica Phillips-Silver. Dr. Phillips-Silver discussed her research involving subject "Matthieu" who has been labelled as "Beat-deaf". This was a fascinating talk about this unique subject who is totally unable to move his body to any beat within a musical context. His abilities to move to a pure beat (metronome) seems to be unimpaired. What makes this even more interesting is that Matthieu seems to be the only person that has been observed with this deficit! Because of this, Dr. Philips-Silver's research on beat-deafness has to date been exclusively a case-study. As such, she hopes to find more subjects with this disorder in order to be able to normally investigate it as a psychological/neural disorder.

Dr. Gammon Earhart discussed her research in following groups of Parkinson's Disease (PD) as they routinely attended dance therapy (DT) sessions. The most interesting finding from her research that I took away from her talk, was that PD patients who participated in the dance therapy (as opposed to traditional movement therapies) had prolonged benefits from the DT even after they stopped attending the sessions! She also touched on additional benefits of DT, such as improved mood with social interactions, improved physical shape with routine exercise, and how these factors play back into the improved PD symptoms.

This was followed by my highlight of the day; the poster session! It was only scheduled for 2 hours, a fact that I wouldn't have minded prior to presenting my poster, but by the end, I found that I would have liked to be able to share my work with more people who simply didn't have time to get to all the posters. In general, people were very interested in my presentation, and the whole labs research in general! In addition to people blatantly telling me this, I also picked up on this since almost everyone who stopped at my poster waited to hear the entire story, and were all interested to know where we were going with the research. I got some great feedback from Steven Brown, and traded contact information with a woman (MD) who works in a sports rehabilitation center

The final talk was given by Dr. Emily Cross. She discussed several lines of research she has/is conducting, all of which involving creative performance and its perception. This was a great talk, she discussed "how our individual experiences shape the way we perceive and learn by watching others"; including a Action Observation Network (AON), and research involving stop motion toys simulating the movement of a human dancer (and vice versa).

The whole day was a great success, and I think the "crew" from our lab did a great job representing our research and spreading the word about the hard work we have all be putting in!

-Mike

1 comment:

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