Cognitive neuroscientist investigates the power music has on the brain

We’ve all tapped our toes or bobbed our heads when we hear a song we like, but you might not realize that this reaction is not about preference but a totally subconscious reaction.Jessica Grahn 1_crop

“Moving to music is an instinctive, often involuntary activity experienced by humans regardless of their culture,” says Dr. Jessica Grahn, assistant professor in the Brain and Mind Institute and the Department of Psychology at Western University, in London, Ont.

Dr. Grahn is a cognitive neuroscientist who investigates how music affects our brain and our behavior. She was the first to discover that our brain’s movement areas respond spontaneously to the rhythm of music. During her presentation, Music and the Brain: Why Do We Move to Music? on Thursday, Mar. 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Okanagan College’s Vernon campus lecture theatre, she will explain why music affects our brains so profoundly and how we can channel that power for treating degenerative neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s.

Dr. Grahn has degrees in Neuroscience and Piano Performance from Northwestern University, as well as a PhD in the Neuroscience of Music from Cambridge, England. In 2010, Jessica received the Charles Darwin Award in Public Communication of Science from the British Science Association. In 2012, she won an Early Researcher Award from the Ontario government. Dr. Grahn has spoken publically on numerous occasions about her interests in interviews with the CBC, BBC, Time Magazine and in presentations at TEDx talks.

Dr. Grahn’s talk is part of the Science in Society Speaker Series (a joint project by Okanagan Science Centre and the Okanagan College), which is sponsored by the Pacific Inn and Suites, Cooper’s Foods, Starbucks Coffee, and the Vernon Morning Star.

Admission is $7 in advance or $10 at the door. For tickets, call the Okanagan Science Centre at (250) 545-3644 or visit To subscribe or obtain more information about the Science in Society Speaker Series, visit

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