A Musical Matter - Inspire Innovation - Carnegie Mellon University

A Musical Matter

A Musical MatterRichard Randall has always loved music. First a listener, then performer, scholar and finally teacher, his perception of music has evolved over the years. But his passion hasn't faded. In fact, it's the reason for his research.

Randall is using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) to investigate how music elicits an emotional response. But because projects like his lie outside of traditional research categories, Randall says they’re often overlooked by mainstream funding sources.

Enter the Rothberg Research Awards in Human Brain Imaging.

Made possible by pioneering CMU alum and trustee Jonathan M. Rothberg (E'85) – the founder of four genetic companies aimed at improving human health – the Rothberg Awards recognize Carnegie Mellon University's leadership in brain science. The award also supports the university's Brain, Mind and Learning initiative.

With support from the award, CMU faculty, post-docs and students can creatively push research boundaries to further investigate how the brain thinks, learns and ages.

For Randall, the Rothberg Award provides him the opportunity to gain valuable experience using fMRI in a musical context.

"The Rothberg Award is special because it's open to people who would like to learn about and use fMRI technology. Applicants need not be specialists in brain imaging," Randall explained. "Specifically, this study will use fMRI to examine whether or not structural musical features - mode, tempo and loudness, for example – can be correlated with the elicitation of specific kinds of emotion."

He’s currently working on a neuro-imaging study that investigates how our perception of melody changes over time.

"Making and understanding music engages high-level mental processes, and if our goal is to better understand the human brain, then it's in our best interest to try and understand how it works in as many different contexts as possible," Randall said.

Seven recipients, including Randall, have been selected to share the $100,000 presented by the inaugural Rothberg Awards.

CMU is pleased to host Jonathan Rothberg on Thursday, November 3 (4:30 – 5:45 p.m.) as the inaugural guest of The Innovators Forum, an exciting new series connecting the world's top innovative minds with the university community. The event will take place in Rashid Auditorium in CMU’s Hillman Center for Future-Generation Technologies.

Related Links: Faculty Support |  RSVP to Nov. 3 Rothberg Event