Our ability to hear provides us with a rich source of information about the world around us and, through language and music, plays an important role in human communication.
Professor Andrew King delivered a talk entitled "Brain plasticity: from Music to Hearing Loss" at the the city of Oxford's annual festival of Music, Science and Arts, Oxford May Music. Running for the last eight years, the festival is a collaborative celebration of culture and human achievement featuring innovative interdisciplinary events and attracts visitors from across the globe.
Oxford May Music is a long-standing event that combines cutting edge science talks on topics of general interest with world class concerts. When I was asked to give one of the talks in this year's festival, I thought it was appropriate to talk about the effects of auditory experience, including musical training, on the brain. The audience was very engaged with many people staying to ask questions at the end. - Professor Andrew King
Professor King described to an engaged audience how sound is detected by the ear and converted into a form that the brain can understand, enabling us to recognise a person's voice or a piece of music. His talk explained the mechanisms behind one of the most important properties of the brain, its capacity to change the way in which sensory signals are processed over multiple timescales, and how these ultimately provide the basis for learning language and musical training, even offering the potential to recover function after hearing loss.
The festival took place from May 2 to May 6 2019 at the St John the Evangelist Church on Iffley Road, a regular and popular venue for music and the arts.
More information on the festival, including the full 2019 programme, can be found here.