The brain is always active, and this complex organ is often involved in multiple functions at the very same time.
For instance, as you play the piano, the brain is directing the motor movements that turn into keystrokes and pedal pushes, as well as the sensory processes that perceive the sound of music.
“For the vast majority of us, music is very much a part of our daily lives, whether it’s listening to music on the radio, going to a concert or even practicing an instrument,” said Maansi Desai, a doctoral student in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders.
She grew up dreaming to one day become a classically-trained concert pianist, a pursuit that sparked Desai’s initial curiosity about the relationship between the brain and sound.
“My first piano teacher had volunteering opportunities for students from her studio to perform at Laguna Honda Hospital, a skilled nursing facility in San Francisco,” Desai said. “I remember that the vast majority of the elderly patients appeared listless, slumped in their wheelchairs, eyes closed.
“However, upon performing, I saw how so many of these patients came to life.”
Her current research focuses on how the brain processes speech, particularly in the presence of noise, with the hope that a better understanding of the auditory system can ultimately improve hearing assistive devices.
One technique to enhance knowledge is a procedure called electrocortical stimulation mapping, and it serves as the inspiration behind Desai’s article, “Brain stimulation can help us understand music and language,” in Frontiers for Young Minds, an open access, peer reviewed journal.
Desai worked with Rachel Sorrells, an undergraduate mentee, to author the article, which was also based on a previously-published research article.