Neuroscience and Music in the UK
Andrew Goldman ’09 (Neuroscience and Piano Performance double major) studied at University College London in Fall 2008. Although he had no prior research experience, he had the opportunity to plan and develop an experiment with Dr. Bradley Duchaine and his research assistants. The goal of the experiment was to exaggerate the characteristics brains use to identify faces in order to stimulate the face-recognition cognitive system of prosopagnosics (people who cannot recognize faces due to brain damage). Andrew worked to make a set of computer-generated caricatures that were easier for subjects to learn and recognize than the standard version of those faces. Although he was not able to work with subjects (due to limited time), he was glad to have the chance to work in a lab before graduation.
In addition to his research, Andrew completed an independent literature review on drug-use as it pertains to moral reasoning. With the help of UCL professor Dr. Essi Viding, he designed a thesis and reviewed articles related to his topic. By the end of the semester, he had written an 18-page report based on his ideas and increased his understanding of the research process.
Andrew was determined to continue playing piano in London. He lived in a dorm with a music practice room, joined the Chamber Music Club and was able to perform in two concerts. He even attended master classes at the Royal Academy of Music! He says “there are numerous concert opportunities in London. I heard many chamber concerts, symphony concerts, and even an opera. I got to see Simon Rattle conduct all four of Schumann’s symphonies which was a wonderful experience. The concert halls were all within walking distance of my dorm – a thirty minute trek through the heart of London – past the bustling Oxford Street, through the magnificent Trafalgar Square, over the Thames and you’re there!”
Andrew was named one of the 2009 USC Renaissance Scholars, in recognition of his academic excellence. This summer he is working as a research assistant at USC’s Brain and Creativity Institute under Dr. Mary Helen Immordino-Yang. He spends his free time composing, gigging and playing his ukulele on the beach.