Symposium Overview

While tremendous scientific and therapeutic advances have been achieved in our knowledge of the impact of music on the developing brain, learning, cognition, memory, and emotion, and, on the health and well-being of an individual or a community, significant challenges remain and opportunities abound. There is a critical need for inter-disciplinary dialogue and cross-disciplinary scientific exchange and collaboration in the fields of neuroscience, the biomedical sciences, medicine, integrative medicine, the psychosocial sciences, and music therapy.

  • What is the state of the science of the impact of music on the brain, medicine, and well-being?
  • What are the most critical questions for future research?
  • How will this science inform new therapeutic approaches and clinical interventions?
  • How can we best lead the field forward?

To launch an intensive dialogue to define the state of the science, to identify the most important questions and opportunities for future research, and to promote cross-disciplinary exchange and collaboration among world class scientists, physicians, healthcare professionals, music therapists, and musicians, we have developed a Scientific Symposium entitled: “Music, The Brain, Medicine, and Wellness” to be presented in association with the 40th Anniversary of the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival on August 4-6, 2012, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. This special 40th Anniversary of the Festival will feature many outstanding musicians including Alan Gilbert, the Music Director of the New York Philharmonic who will be the Festival’s Artist in Residence, and, members of the legendary former Guarneri String Quartet who are reuniting for this festival performance. In addition to these musicians, the Scientific Symposium will feature internationally known scientists, physicians, healthcare professionals, and therapists who are engaged in state of the art research assessing the role and impact of music in the developing brain, cognition, learning, memory, language, and emotion, as well the application of music to health and well-being and in the treatment of disease, including neurologic diseases, developmental disorders, and cancer. The Symposium will be held in the Eldorado Hotel in Santa Fe, adjacent to the concert and performance venues of the St. Francis Auditorium and The Lensic Performing Arts Center, all surrounding the Santa Fe Plaza and the heart of the city. Targeted attendees include biomedical research scientists, physicians, music therapists, healthcare professionals, and members of the community at large.

The overall goal of the Symposium is to bring “world class” scientists, physicians, healthcare professional, and therapists to Santa Fe to interface with “world class” musicians, and, to present cutting edge research and the state of the science in three areas of investigation: 1) how the development of the brain in early childhood and how cognitive development, language, emotion, and memory are influenced by various forms of music; 2) how music can be used to promote wellness and healing in patients with serious medical conditions including cancer; neurologic, developmental and cognitive disorders such as autism, and other chronic health conditions; and 3) how music promotes wellbeing in an individual and a community. We wish to define the state of the science for researchers and healthcare workers in this field, to define the most important questions for future research, and to understand how music can be applied in the art and practice of healing in medicine. In addition, the Symposium will provide many opportunities for interactions and “demonstrative” projects between scientists and musicians, as well as forums and concerts open to the public and lay audiences.

Conference Methodology: To promote rigorous scientific dialogues and open point/counterpoint exchanges between scientists, healthcare professionals, therapists, and musicians, the Symposium’s Scientific Advisory Committee has developed a symposium format that will feature sessions in which an internationally known and accomplished scientists, physicians, and therapists will present the state of the science in their field, followed by an intensive dialogue and exchange with additional speakers, panelists, and the audience. In keeping with the music format, each session will be organized in “trios:” from basic science, to translation to disease, to the status of clinical interventions, and, will engage scientists, musicians, therapists and other healthcare professionals. Each session will end with the key scientific questions and future opportunities identified. The Symposium Program is organized around three key topics: 1) how the development of the brain, cognitive, development, language, and emotion are influenced by various forms of music; 2) how music can be used to promote health and well being in patients with serious medical conditions including cancer; neurologic, developmental and cognitive disorders; and other chronic health conditions; and 3) the impact of music in wellness and creativity of an individual and the community. Symposium scientists will synthesize this dialogue into a major position paper on the state of the science, identifying the most important research questions and opportunities, to be published in the scientific and music literature.

  • The Scientific Organizing Committee
  • Barrie Cassileth, PhD
  • Kamal R. Chemali, MD
  • Suzanne Hanser, Ed.D, MT
  • David Huron, PhD
  • Ani Patel, PhD
  • Isabelle Peretz, PhD
  • Michael Thaut, PhD
  • Cheryl L. Willman, MD
  • Robert Zatorre, PhD