Those interested in brain science and its value in exploring the cultural experience probably already know Daniel Levitin and his work at the Levitin Laboratory for Music, Perception, Cognition, and Expertise (there’s a Boston Globe article on him here). But those with a specific curiosity about the difference between live performance experience and mediated experience (through film, television, and such), should be tracking his latest project.
This year, he and his colleagues attached electrophysiological sensors to conductor Keith Lockhart, five members of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and 15 audience members, to measure their brain activity and emotional reactions during a live concert in Boston’s Symphony Hall. They then planned to use the same devices to measure an audience of a high-quality audio/video presentation of the same performance. The goals of the study are:
- To track the communication of emotion over time from the conductor, to the musicians, and finally to the audience.
- To quantify differences in arousal and impact between being at a live concert and seeing a broadcast of one.
- To characterize and quantify any differences in emotional levels and type of emotion experienced from the conductor to the musicians and the musicians to the audience.
It will be fun and fascinating to see the results. (Thanks, Jenn, for the link.)