School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Prof Andrea Halpern, Bucknell University

21 November 2012

Time: 3:00 - 4:00pm
Venue: BR 3.02 Bancroft Road Teaching Rooms Peter Landin Building London E1 4NS

Memory for Music and Art in Alzheimer's Disease

Memory for Music and Art in Alzheimer’s Disease
Neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s are characterized by impairments in many aspects of memory.  Contrary to some popular belief, I have shown that learning new tunes or artworks is as impaired as new learning for other kinds of material.  However, early-stage patients retain access their store of previously learned artistic information, and also maintain their ability to appreciate the aesthetics of a new work of art.  I discuss these findings with respect to understanding the specific course of memory impairment in Alzheimer’s disease as well as the ways that music and art can be used to enrich the lives of patients and their loved ones.

Biography: Since receiving her PhD in Psychology from Stanford University, Prof. Halpern has been a faculty member in the Psychology Department at Bucknell University, an undergraduate liberal arts university in Pennsylvania. She has spent sabbatical leaves in Montreal, Boston, Los Angeles, and Dallas, in addition to her current sabbatical in London as a Leverhulme Visiting Professor. She studies memory for nonverbal information, cognitive neuroscience of music perception, and cognitive aging, particularly with respect to music. One special interest is the behavioral and neural underpinnings of auditory imagery for music. As seen by her topic today, she also studies how people suffering from dementing diseases like Alzheimer’s can process and enjoy both music and art.  In addition to teaching cognition courses, she enjoys the teaching of writing, and mentoring undergraduate researchers, for which she received a national award in 2004.  She has received grants from several US federal and private agencies, including the Grammy Foundation, and currently serves as President of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. In her spare time she enjoys singing choral and chamber music, and traveling to see wildlife in endangered habitats (she has been to all 8 continents, if one counts Madagascar!)