I study music, language and the brain in an effort to understand how we perceive rhythm, and how musical rhythm can be used in medicine. Central to this work is the idea that perception is fundamentally a constructive process, involving the integration of multiple senses as well as behavior. A variety of approaches are taken, both behavioral and neurophysiological, applied to the study of multi-modal relations in perception, as well as sensory-motor coupling. Fundamental to this work is the use of music perception and production as a tool for the study of complex brain processes, including those that may underlie language. Research at UC San Diego has progressed along several main directions concerning a) brain mechanisms of auditory perception in humans, b) rhythm processing, and c) the relation between language and music. A common theme running through all of these projects is rhythm— most generally understood as the organization of events in time.
Research projects have included studies of
- how perception of rhythm can depend on a listener’s native language
- how listeners synchronize with the regular beat found in rhythms of varying complexity, comparing performance when rhythms are presented aurally versus visually
- how attention to a sound modifies response to that sound
- auditory stream segregation
- how intentional subjective perception of the ‘’beat’ of a rhythm modulates neural responses and perception.