Student Keynote Speaker Announcement

When sound waves meet brain waves

Everyone is acquainted with music, listening either intentionally or accidentally, for pleasure, relaxation, or motivation, to connect with peers, or to disconnect for a moment and perceive your inner self. But have you ever asked yourself how it is possible that music has this power on us? How can it accomplish all this? What is so special about music and how does it affect our brain(s)? 

These are only a few of the questions empirical aesthetics addresses. Can an aesthetic experience like music be measured? And if so, how? Can neuroscience help us in this? And what kind of knowledge do we gain? Is it possible to bridge the gap between aesthetic experience – in phenomenological (philosophical) sense – and typical empirical measurement in neuroscience? The difficulty at hand arises partially because we expect those measures to provide explanations for different levels of analysis, i.e. neurocognitive correlates of perception, neurological paths of pleasure and rewards, neurobiological release of hormones, but also philosophical concepts, aesthetic issues, theoretical analyses of social, cultural and historical factors, anthropological and ethological aspects, and many more. 

Imagine this scenario: you are at the concert of one of your favourite artists. You feel an intense sensation of being tuned and in synchrony with others: everyone is listening to the same music. It brings people together, it harmonises and coordinates people; it seems to trigger similar responses at the same time, thus, something important might be happening. But what? This last question is one that drives the research of Anna Czepiel. And we are extremely excited and pleased to have her as our Student Keynote Speaker at Synapsium 2022!

Anna is a PhD candidate at the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics in Frankfurt and at Maastricht University, and member of the BAND Lab – Basic & Applied NeuroDynamics Laboratory: Where brain research meets real-life applications (University of Maastricht). She is interested in the psychological, physiological, and neural mechanisms involved in production, perception, and aesthetic experience of music. Her PhD project explores the neural, physiological, and aesthetic responses during naturalistic music listening in ecological contexts, specifically in live concert settings. She uses synchrony (inter-subject correlation) and entrainment measures of EEG and physiology (heart, respiration, skin conductance, and EMG) to explore the experience of acoustic features (e.g., Music Information Retrieval [MIR] features) and contextual features (e.g., live and recorded performances) of Classical and contemporary music. In addition to her PhD project, she is interested in neural and behavioural correlates of music production. She examines the neural mechanisms of internal models in action planning, as well as movement features in expressive and emotional performances.

If you want to be in the front row hearing about the emerging field of neuroscience in empirical aesthetics that is changing our understanding of art and science, you definitely do not want to miss Synapsium 2022!