Menu Menu

Lecture explores 'This is Your Brain on Music'

Monday, March 10, 2014
Lecture explores 'This is Your Brain on Music'

Dr. Daniel Levitin's research blends cognitive psychology, neuroscience and music. 
As part of its Varner Vitality Lecture Series, Oakland University will present “An Evening with Daniel Levitin” at 7 p.m. on Monday, April 7 in Meadow Brook Theatre. Blending cognitive psychology, neuroscience and music, Dr. Levitin’s career features diverse contributions as an author, scholar, performer, music executive and record producer. His work has been celebrated in a variety of fields, earning him a distinguished place in academia, media and popular culture. Dr. Levitin’s talk will focus on how musical tastes are influenced, how individuals become musical experts and how the human brain responds to music. A book signing will follow the event.

A prolific writer, Dr. Levitin has published scores of scientific and popular articles on music and music technology in magazines, including Billboard, Electronic Musician, Mix and GRAMMY. He is a frequent guest on NPR and CBC Radio and his research has appeared in prominent publications such as The New York Times, The London Times, Scientific American and Rolling Stone.  

In addition, Dr. Levitin has authored two international best-selling books, “This is Your Brain on Music,” which examines how the human brain influences perception of music, and “The World in Six Songs,” a look at the impact of music in history and culture. “This is Your Brain on Music” has inspired two award-winning documentaries, “The Music Instinct,” with Bobby McFerrin, and “The Musical Brain” – featuring Sting.

Dr. Levitin serves as the James McGill Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at McGill University in Montreal and is a fellow for the Association for Psychological Science, American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Royal Society of Canada. He has lectured before the United States Library of Congress, the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Canadian Ministers of Culture, among other organizations.

Along with his scholarly contributions, Dr. Levitin has made a mark on the entertainment industry as both a performer and executive. The saxophone, guitar, and bass player has shared the stage with a host of famous names, including Roseanne Cash, Mel Tormé, David Byrne, Rodney Crowell, Sting, Bobby McFerrin, Victor Wooten, Blue Oyster Cult, members of the Steve Miller Band and Santana. He served as vice president of 415/Columbia Records (now Sony Records) from 1984-1988 and as president in 1989.

After forming his own production and consulting company, Dr. Levitin worked with high-profile performers including Stevie Wonder, Steely Dan and Blue Oyster Cult and helped produce acclaimed films “Good Will Hunting” and “Pulp Fiction.” His efforts have helped garner 14 gold and platinum albums and two Oscar nominations.

The Varner Vitality Lecture Series is named in honor of Oakland's first chancellor, Durward "Woody" Varner, aims to energize and sustain the highest academic and scholarly aspirations of the university community. Previous speakers include Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, former president of India, Dr. Madeleine Albright, the first female U.S. Secretary of State, and Dr. Jane Goodall, world-renowned primatologist.

The Varner Vitality Lecture Series is sponsored by Academic Affairs and the Oakland University Credit Union. The event is free and open to the public. Maps of the campus are available at or by searching for "Meadow Brook Theatre" on a smartphone. For more information, contact OU Executive Events at (248) 370-2053. Those planning to attend must RSVP to