Scientists take close look at musical mind of St. Louis Symphony’s Robertson

Posted on: October 18, 2011

In Saturday’s (10/15) Post-Dispatch (Saint Louis), Sarah Bryan Miller writes, “David Robertson’s musical mind has made him a celebrated conductor here and abroad, as music director of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra and as a guest elsewhere. Now it could help some distinguished local neurologists to better understand just how the human brain works when it comes to music. Three subjects—Robertson and two scientists—were tested, hooked up to brain imaging machinery and listening to the same music. The ways in which their brains reacted, as seen in color imaging, were very different: when the music was playing, Robertson’s lit up like a Christmas tree, far more vividly than those of the others, both music lovers but nonmusicians. ‘It’s a way of illustrating where the science is going,’ says Al Wiman, the St. Louis Science Center’s managing director for community engagement. The Science Center held a public event, ‘The Musical Brain of David Robertson,’ on Thursday night, to show just how different Robertson’s brain looks from two others. … Another research scientist involved in the study, Dr. Avi Snyder, cautions, ‘A three-subject experiment is completely invalid scientifically. It’s almost a stunt.’ Not quite, though. Snyder adds, ‘The contrast between the subjects was so stark that I’m convinced it’s a real finding.’ ”

Posted October 18, 2011