Arts & Humanities Society & Culture

‘Peering Into the Musical Brain’ unravels mysteries of musicians’ minds

Athens, Ga. – The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts will present “Peering Into the Musical Brain,” a lecture reviewing years of musician-centered neurological studies, on Oct. 4 at 7:30 p.m. in the Edge Recital Hall of the Hugh Hodgson School of Music. The lecture, presented by Donald Hodges of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, is free and open to the public.

The presentation represents two decades of work by Hodges, whose career has focused on understanding what happens in the minds of musicians when they perform, study and listen to music. The lecture will include a variety of musical examples spanning from Baroque to contemporary pop.

Hodges has authored more than 140 publications on music psychology and music education, most recently co-authoring the 2011 book “Music in the Human Experience: An Introduction to Music Psychology.” Hodges currently serves as director of UNC Greensboro’s Music Research Institute, where he supervises more than 40 ongoing research projects in a variety of disciplines.

Hodges’s research has unlocked insights—including the revelation that pianists performing from memory actually disengage the frontal regions of their brains, essentially allowing the brain to “get out of the way” while the body performs tasks it was trained to do.

“Most recently, we demonstrated that listening to one’s favorite music increases connectivity in the default mode network, a region of the brain implicated in aspects of conscious awareness, autobiographical memories, and self-relevant emotions,” Hodges said. “We are inching closer to understanding why music is such a powerful, universal human experience.

“While we don’t have all the answers yet, we have come a long way in explaining this incredible phenomenon that so strongly speaks to the human condition.”

UGA Willson Center for Humanities and Arts
The Jane and Harry Willson Center for Humanities and Arts is a unit of the UGA Office of the Vice President for Research. In the service of its mission to promote research and creativity in the humanities and arts, the Willson Center sponsors and participates in numerous public events on and off the UGA campus throughout the academic year. It supports faculty through research grants, lectures, symposia, publications, visiting scholars, visiting artists, collaborative instruction, public conferences, exhibitions and performances. For more information on the Willson Center, see