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CAPITA FOUNDATION - NEWS and EVENTS
Article: Why Music Makes our Brain Sing
Published June 7, 2013 in the NY Times JThe New York TimesBy ROBERT J. ZATORRE and VALORIE N. SALIMPOOR
MUSIC is not tangible. You can’t eat it, drink it or mate with it. It doesn’t protect against the rain, wind or cold. It doesn’t vanquish predators or mend broken bones. And yet humans have always prized music — or well beyond prized, loved it.
In the modern age we spend great sums of money to attend concerts, download music files, play instruments and listen to our favorite artists whether we’re in a subway or salon. But even in Paleolithic times, people invested significant time and effort to create music, as the discovery of flutes carved from animal bones would suggest.
So why does this thingless “thing” — at its core, a mere sequence of sounds — hold such potentially enormous intrinsic value?
The quick and easy explanation is that music brings a unique pleasure to humans. Of course, that still leaves the question of why. But for that, neuroscience is starting to provide some answers.
More than a decade ago, our research team used brain imaging to show that music that people described as highly emotional engaged the reward system deep in their brains — activating subcortical nuclei known to be important in reward, motivation and emotion. Subsequently we found that listening to what might be called “peak emotional moments” in music — that moment when you feel a “chill” of pleasure to a musical passage — causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, an essential signaling molecule in the brain.
When pleasurable music is heard, dopamine is released in the striatum — an ancient part of the brain found in other vertebrates as well — which is known to respond to naturally rewarding stimuli like food and sex and which is artificially targeted by drugs like cocaine and amphetamine.
The idea that reward is partly related to anticipation (or the prediction of a desired outcome) has a long history in neuroscience. Making good predictions about the outcome of one’s actions would seem to be essential in the context of survival, after all. And dopamine neurons, both in humans and other animals, play a role in recording which of our predictions turn out to be correct. Read full article here
Field Trip to Copley Symphony Hall
With the support of the San Diego Symphony and Capita Foundation, 200 students and families from Maryland Avenue Elementary School in La Mesa were given tickets and transportation to the world famous Romero Royal Family of Guitars along with the Orchestra on May 16, 2013.
Article: Imaginary Prizes Take Aim at Real Problems
By J. PEDER ZANE
Published: November 8, 2012 New York Times
IMAGINE putting up a prize of $20 million to inspire others to solve a particular problem. What would your challenge be?
Some of the world’s leading companies, including Google, Qualcomm and Nokia, have sponsored big-money contests challenging competitors around the world to design a host of wonders, including robots that can explore the moon, superefficient electric vehiclesand more accurate methods for sequencing the human genome. The online movie streaming company Netflix awarded $1 million to a winning team of outsiders that helped it develop better ways to predict which films its customers would like.Carol Padden, 2010 Fellow
CHALLENGE Use crowdsourcing to help the hearing-impaired
The paradox of America’s economy is that while it is hard for many people to find one paying job, almost everybody has several they do free. We are bank tellers when we use the A.T.M., airline employees when we check ourselves in for flights and cashiers when we scan our items at the supermarket.
And we work on the cutting edge of technology, helping Google and Apple refine their voice recognition software each time we ask our phones to name the capital of Burkina Faso (it’s Ouagadougou) and follow up by asking, “How the heck do you pronounce that?”
Carol Padden, who is deaf and teaches communication at the University of California, San Diego, said she wanted to enlist volunteers to crowdsource a labor-intensive service: captioning video for the deaf and hard of hearing. Her $20 million prize would reward the person or team who devised an effective method to tap the power of the Internet to caption videos. She said this could involve “breaking down a video segment into very short one-minute clips which are sent out in the universe to be captioned by anyone. The short clips would be recombined to produce a captioned version of the original segment.”
Like many efforts initially aimed at helping those with disabilities, Ms. Padden noted that the project would almost certainly have broader benefits. Parents pushing strollers, she noted, are grateful for the curb cuts created for people in wheelchairs, just as patrons watching “Monday Night Football” in noisy bars count on closed captions to see what the announcers are saying.
Article: Road Traffic Noise and Diabetes: Long-Term Exposure May Increase Disease Risk
Noise from honking cars and police sirens can disrupt sleep, but it also may increase the chance of developing diabetes, according to a large study from Denmark.
The researchers compared noise levels from road traffic to the incidence of diabetes in 57,000 people. As the noise levels increased so did the risk for developing the disease. The risk increased by 8 - 11 percent for every 10-decibel (dB) increase in road noise. A decibel is a measure of loudness and intensity of sound.
The results suggest that living near heavily traveled roads may increase the risk of developing diabetes. To make sure they were measuring effects from noise, the researchers adjusted for several other variables associated with diabetes, including body mass index, education, lifestyle characteristics and nitrogen oxides, which are formed from vehicle exhaust and are known to increase the risk of the disease.
The results have important implications for urban planning. As major cities attempt to increase urban density, more people may live closer to heavier traffic and noisier roads. Further, people with low incomes typically live closer to major roads and highways, putting them at greater risk.More here.
American Sign Language (ASL) Tour at MOPA San Diego