Aarhus University Seal

New research centre will identify how music affects the brain

Friday 5 June sees the official opening of Aarhus University's new basic research centre “Music in the Brain". The centre is the result of a unique collaboration between Aarhus University and the Royal Academy of Music.

Most people know that music has an effect on the brain. But researchers only have limited knowledge of what more precisely takes place in the brain, when we listen to music. A new basic research centre – Music in the Brain (MIB) – will now remedy this. The centre officially opens on Friday 5 June with an opening ceremony at the Concert Hall in Aarhus.

"We know that music activates a wide range of systems in the brain such as hearing, motor function and emotions. However, in order to understand why music affects us so strongly, we need much greater knowledge about exactly what happens in the brain, when we hear or play music," says Professor and Centre Director Peter Vuust from Aarhus University, and continues:

"For example, we can use the study of musicians’ brains to understand how the brain changes when we learn something new and hereby, what happens to the brain, when we rehabilitate it – what we call the brain’s plasticity. The aim of the centre's research is therefore to understand how the brain processes music and, at the same time, to use this knowledge to improve our understanding of the brain."

According to Peter Vuust, this will provide new knowledge about the functions of the brain and pave the way for doctors to be able to use this knowledge in the treatment of diseases in the future. The research will e.g. be relevant in the case of rehabilitation after strokes, pain management, for improving sleep quality and in connection with autism or ADHD.

DKK 52 million for the centre

Peter Vuust has be carrying out research into how music is processed in the brain since 2002. His unconventional research group consists of musicians, psychologists, doctors and natural science researchers from Aarhus University and the Royal Academy of Music.

The Danish National Research Foundation is supporting the new basic research centre with a grant of DKK 52 million. The grant will significantly strengthen the research being carried out into the therapeutic perspectives of music.

"The grant will open up some completely new opportunities. I expect that there will be more than thirty researchers affiliated with the centre in a few years time. This will make the centre one of the biggest research environments in the world in this area," says Peter Vuust.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration

One thing the researchers will be doing is using new scanning technologies and other methods from the natural sciences to understand how music affects the brain.

"By working together across the boundaries of music and brain research, we can use the newest brain scanning methods to find answers to questions that arise out of a detailed knowledge of, and practical experience with, music’s fundamental effects," says Peter Vuust, commenting on the collaboration between researchers from the faculty of health sciences and the Royal Danish Academy of Music.

"The combination of the academy’s professional knowledge of music and the methods used for brain research in the natural sciences will make the centre into something special. You will not find anything like it anywhere else in the world," he says.  

The centre's research does not only have potential in relation to patient treatment. Peter Vuust emphasises that greater knowledge of the correlation between music and the brain functions will also impact the way in which we learn, play, teach and listen to music.

In addition to being Professor at the Department of Clinical Medicine at Aarhus University, Peter Vuust will continue as Professor at the Royal Academy of Music. As a jazz bassist and composer he has contributed to more than 85 releases, as well as issuing six CDs with his own group, the Peter Vuust Quartet. He also received a Danish Music Award nomination in 2014 for the CD "September Song".


Opening ceremony in the Concert Hall Aarhus

The press are welcome to the opening ceremony in the Concert Hall Aarhus on 5 June. See the invitation on the website: http://musicinthebrain.au.dk/#news-5461.


See also


Further information

Professor, PhD Peter Vuust
Aarhus University, Department of Clinical Medicine and
The Royal Academy of Music
Telephone: +45 2711 9471