The Power of Music in Neuroscience and Medicine
DR. JOHN IVERSEN
Saturday, September 17, 2011
Room 111-A Chancellor’s Complex, UCSD Campus
The enjoyment and making of music require many fundamental brain mechanisms to act together. Because of this music has become a powerful tool for understanding and healing the brain. Dr. Iversen will discuss recent developments in the study of one aspect of music, rhythm, and the human brain: the discovery of a bird that can dance, and what this all means for us.
John Iversen studies brain mechanisms of rhythm perception and production in language and music, combining a background in physics and neuroscience and a life-long interest in playing the drums, which he still does avidly as a co-founder of the drumming group San Diego Taiko. After undergraduate studies at Harvard, John received graduate degrees in Philosophy of Science and in Neuroscience at Cambridge and MIT. He is now an Associate Fellow in Theoretical Neurobiology at The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego where he studies how the human brain perceives and makes music and language and how this knowledge can enhance the use of music in medicine.
From the President
SDIS enters its new year with several new Officers and Board members. I continue as President for another year as do all the other officers except our Executive Vice President, Treasurer, and Secretary. Please join me in thanking last year’s Executive Vice President, Sue Punjack, last year’s Treasurer, Edwina Shell-Johnson, and last year’s Secretary, Bill Houghton for all their good work on behalf of SDIS. Dutch Schantz is our new Executive Vice President, Diana Keeran Withee our new Treasurer, and Sue Rosner our new Secretary. The Board also is expanded to include one new Member-at-Large, Elizabeth Snowden.
This is a strong new Board. It has already met and has decided on an ambitious agenda with the goal of making SDIS an increasingly vital organization. At the top of its “action” list is one agenda item: outreach. Common sense suggests that SDIS needs to add new members who bring additional energy and enthusiasm to the organization. Outreach calls for asking the question, “Who are the people who will join us?” Of course, none of us can list all their specific names, but among us I have no doubt about a partial answer, “Our friends and colleagues.”
We, as current SDIS members, have a better understanding of membership benefits than anyone else. We are the ones best able to decide who among our friends and colleagues would find membership in SDIS enriching to their lives. So, the Board’s and my message is simple. Invite friends and colleagues to our Saturday meetings at UCSD. If you are a member of a study group, consider speaking to the facilitator of your group and arrange for your friends to attend one or two meetings of that study group, or another, so they can evaluate whether they find this mode of small group dialog interesting. Cast a broad glance toward those you know but be selective about whom you invite; choose those people whose lives you feel will be enriched by SDIS.
Membership in SDIS can be life-enhancing for people of a certain intellectual leaning, that is, for people who enjoy an active life of the mind — whether or not they are engaged in individual specialized studies of their own. On the other side of the coin, SDIS itself becomes an increasingly rich environment for all its members when new members bring their energy and varied perspectives to it.
A final thought: I continue to be impressed not only by the content of SDIS programs but also by the sense of civility and mutual respect which inhabits even the most spirited and lively exchanges at SDIS events. I suggest that people in our society too often focus so intently on the subject at hand that they pay no attention to their process of interaction. Everywhere in the media, and generally in public exchanges, one sees examples of destructive interpersonal process rather than intellectually deep mutual search to illuminate the issues at hand in ways which expand knowledge and clarity of thought. Indeed, for me, SDIS is a haven of civility, of intelligent and thoughtful discourse, and of respectful collegial interactions. I’ve sampled all of our study groups and find such civilized process the norm. Clearly, it is a shared value within SDIS though too seldom articulated. What’s the worth of an affiliation with others who share the values so evident in SDIS? There is an old trite comparison which says, “It is worth its weight in gold.” Even at today’s high price of gold? Yes, truly, if the worth of it is measured in units of satisfaction instead of ounces.
“PARADISE” IN A FLOATING MUSEUM
The Maritime Museum of San Diego? No, it’s not the gigantic World War II aircraft carrier Midway; neither is it one of Balboa Park’s showplaces. The museum is unique because it is a collection of eight historic vessels in San Diego Bay.
The museum: Most conspicuous of the octet, all anchored along Harbor Drive at Ash Street, is the 1863 sailing ship Star of India. Its berthing on San Diego’s waterfront 75 years ago marked the beginning of the Museum. The Star was once a commercial vessel and is now the world’s oldest ship that still maintains a regular sailing schedule. Next to the Star is the large 1898 Victorian era steam ferry Berkeley. The Museum’s present configuration dates from the ‘80s acquisition of the Berkeley; she houses the principal exhibit spaces and library.
The museum also includes the B-39, which is a “Foxtrot” class Cold War-era Soviet attack submarine, and the U.S. Navy’s 1968 last diesel-electric submarine Dolphin. The Gilded Age 1904 steam yacht Medea and the 1914 Pilot, which for 90 years ferried San Diego harbor pilots to merchant ships entering the Bay, join the other restored vessels. Two replicas complete the octet: the 18th century Royal Navy frigate HMS Surprise, and the Gold Rush period schooner Californian. The Maritime Museum opens every day, 9 a.m. - 8 p.m.
The library: The 50-year-old library‘s collection contains more than 8,000 books. They deal with local maritime history – a few with the history of San Diego as a port; with 15th-18th century Spanish exploration; with the 18th century British Royal Navy; with steam engines, and with ship models. A large section concerns World War II. The library has one of the most extensive collections in the U.S. of Lloyd’s Register of Shipping, regularly issued from 1775 into the 1990s, listing all ships registered, their shipping routes and ports of origin. Another important section deals with coastal California.
An archive of 25,000 photos, many of the Museum’s locally held ships, includes over 6,000 postcards. Another archive of 260 boxes contains documentation of such maritime affairs as ship records, logs, letters, records of naval service from the early 20th century and a few dating from the 18th century. The only fiction here consists of classic seafaring novels. The library is open to the public by appointment, although only Museum members may borrow material; hours are Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. – 12 noon.
The “Paradise” exhibit: The originality of the justifiably touted and fascinating temporary exhibit, “Cook, Melville and Gauguin: Three Voyages to Paradise,” rewards the visitor with diverse European views and accounts of the Pacific and its islands never before seen together, presented in historical context.
Aboard the HMS Surprise are accounts of early explorations and maps of the Pacific before Captain James Cook entered the Pacific in 1769 aboard the English bark Endeavor. Original paintings by the official artists on Cook’s voyages join artifacts and written descriptions of what the European voyagers regarded as an earthly paradise, their depictions causing a sensation at home. But during the next century Herman Melville described in his writings the exploitation and decline of Polynesian culture that followed, shown in exhibited material.
Adjacent, in the Berkeley’s Gould Eddy Gallery, is the Paul Gauguin portion of the exhibit, presented as the French artist’s eulogy to Polynesian culture. Among the sixty works shown are the largest display of his three-dimensional works on exhibition anywhere in the world, as well as original oils, watercolors and engravings. The exhibit, a cooperative effort of the Maritime Museum’s director Ray Ashley and the Kelton Foundation, founded by Los Angeles entrepreneur and collector Richard Kelton, is unique to San Diego and will not be repeated elsewhere. It remains until January 1. I intend to visit this rich exploration of past experiences and attitudes again; perhaps you’d like to accompany me.
Colloquy Café will discuss "The Good Death" on Wednesday, September 21, at 1:30 p.m. If you are interested in attending contact Sam Gusman at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Culture Group will meet Thursday, September 15, at 2:00 p.m. The group will focus on the issues described in Chapter 7 (Arguing Affirmative Action) of Justice: What's The Right Thing to Do? by Michael Sandel. Those interested in attending should contact Sam Gusman at email@example.com.
TheFilm Groupwill meet Wednesday, September 7, at the home of Barbara Heckler. At 12:30 p.m. we will view the 2010 film In a Better World, winner of Best Foreign Film at the 2011 Academy Awards. If you have already viewed the film, discussion will begin at 2:15 p.m. Contact Barbara at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
The Literature Group will discuss Edith Wharton's novel The Age of Innocence Monday, September 19, at Gerry Horwitz's home. Discussion will begin at 10:30 a.m. and be led by Greta Wheeler. Bring a brown bag lunch. Contact Harry Boyle at email@example.com for more information.
Science (aka Brain)
The Science Group will meet on Monday, September 26th, at 3 p.m. in Bea Rose’s apartment to discuss Chapter 3 of Patricia Churchland's Braintrust. Visitors are welcome, but please call Bea Rose at 858-458-9263 if you intend to come.
Works in Progress
WIP will meet Saturday, September 24, 1:30 p.m., at the home of Aline Hornaday. We look forward to another chapter of Carol Gartner’s biography of Mary Putnam Jacobi, an early pioneer for women physicians at the turn of the last century. RSVP to Donna Boyle, firstname.lastname@example.org. And do reply, so that we can be sure to get Carol’s material to you. Check the Directory for Aline’s address, and let me know if you need directions.
WIP provides for SDIS members a venue to explore potential projects. Almost anything of an intellectual or artistic nature is welcome, at whatever phase of development. The group can help you flesh out a vague idea, organize a complex plan, fine tune a project well underway, or rehearse something already completed. Bring poetry, translation, historical or scientific research, polemic discussion, imaginative visual or written work, a talk, or other projects.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL WITH BEA ROSE
When I asked Bea if I could interview her, she initially demurred, saying “I’m not that interesting”. Sorry to disagree with you, Bea, but you ARE that interesting!
Q. You have a Master of Public Health degree as well as an M.D. Why did you decide on both of these degrees rather than just one or the other?
A. When I was convalescing from an appendectomy at age 18, someone gave me a book about the adventures of a World Health Organization Pubic Health Officer which confirmed my conviction that I wanted to be a physician and particularly wanted to be a WHO Public Health Officer. But getting into medical school was the first step I took. Early in my internship I met Leonard and all my plans were altered. However, Public Health was an abiding interest, and after serving on the Oregon State Board of Health, almost twenty-four years after getting my M. D., I went back to University to get my M.P.H.
Q. Where did you study?
A. George Washington University in the District of Columbia awarded me both my baccalaureate and my medical degrees.
Q. Could you tell me a little about your career?
- A. It would be hard to tell you a “little” about my career. Suffice it to say that I have had the opportunity to work professionally in this country's three medical systems: private practice, academia, and what some people call socialized medicine - the Veterans Administration. In my career (and lifetime) I have done everything I wanted to do and more than I ever expected of myself. It was great!
Q. You’re founder of the “Brain” study group. What is the most important thing you’ve learned from it?
A. I started the Brain study group about eleven years ago because I wanted the answer to “What is a thought?” Although we are getting closer to that answer, we still do not have it. The most important lesson I have learned from these years of study is that the brain is awesomely and infinitely complex and there is so much more we have to learn.
Q. When did you join SDIS? How have you seen it change?
A. I joined SDIS when a friend took me to a meeting where I met a group of interesting, articulate, intellectually curious people. It was in 1996, I believe. Within short order I was elected to be Notebook Editor and served in that position for a long time. Knowing the history that SDIS was formed as part of some University women’s struggle to be judged on their merit rather than their gender and the continuous attitude of respect for scholarship, I value this organization highly and am delighted by the recent resurgence of energy.
Q. What kinds of things make you cringe?
A. Arrogance, stupidity, and lack of common courtesy.
Q. What’s your favorite pastime?
Q. Are there any particular bragging points or interesting things I don’t know you well enough to ask?
A. I do not brag. You will have to know me better to find out whether or not I am interesting.
Q. Where have you lived? When and why did you come to San Diego?
A. My early life was on the East Coast with many years in the District of Columbia. I migrated to Portland, Oregon in the early 1950s where I lived until the move to La Jolla. In 1993 I had a major heart attack that left me unable to cope with the cold. On the advice of my cardiologist to go to a warmer climate, we moved to La Jolla.
Q. What about family?
A. My son, an electro-physiologist who practices in Gig Harbor, Washington, and I are the sole survivors of our family.
MARCUS KLEIN BOOK PUBLICATION AND DONATION
The SDIS Board of Directors has purchased two copies of Terribly at the Mercy of His Mind, Henry James in the 1890s by SDIS member Marcus Klein. One book will be donated to UCSD’s Geisel Library; another will be donated to the San Diego Public Library. This conforms with SDIS policy which calls for the purchase of two copies of any book by an SDIS member newly published during his/her membership, and the presentation of one copy to each of the two libraries. The book was published in 2010 by Korea's Seoul National University Press... yes, it’s in English.
SDIS extends a warm welcome to its newest members: Beverly Fremont, whose interests are Politics, History, and Philosophy; and Stephen Tamor, whose interests are Science, History, and Mathematics.
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AL CHRISTMAN was a stalwart of SDIS. He was a regular at Works in Progress, which supported him as he crafted his book on the Barnstormers, the pilots who popularized flight in the early the years of aviation. It was Al’s last wish that the book be published, and it is now moving swiftly toward publication.
Al’s father was a barnstormer. Al lost both his brother and his father in crashes. His book was directed toward a general audience but it was also a tribute to Al’s forebears. Al grew up in New Mexico and his mother had all of the qualities of independence that we associate with the pioneer women of an earlier era. Although the focus of Al’s book is on his father, it is the picture we gain of his mother that stays with us.
Al’s life, too, involved unusual experiences. Al loved photography and his pictures of Death Valley are memorable. He was also a scholar. He was an historian for the Navy… now that’s unusual in and of itself. His book, Target Hiroshima, was published by the Naval Institute Press in 1998. The centerpiece of the book was the work of Deak Parsons, the affectionate name for Admiral William Sterling Parsons, and his role in delivering to its target the miracle weapon that precipitously ended World War II.
Al’s wife, Janet Kunert, is an active SDIS member.
CLARE CRANE was one of the earliest and most productive members of SDIS. Clare migrated to San Diego with her husband, Loch, after World War II. After earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, she produced a ground-breaking dissertation on the Harlem Renaissance and in 1971 received the first Ph.D. awarded by the UCSD History Department.
Clare had been a political activist in San Diego before starting at UCSD, but her doctoral degree and her experiences in a department where women graduate students were then a majority, but were treated less than favorably by many male faculty as well as graduate students, sharpened her political skills and gave her a life-long empathy for the under-dog. One of her colleagues in graduate school was Helen Hawkins.
Clare wrote articles on San Diego history for the Journal of San Diego History. She worked for the San Diego Historical Society as the first curator for the Villa Montezuma. Even before her work at the Villa, Clare had become aware of the situation evolving in San Diego which threatened to change the entire character of the city, and of the need for good city planning. For the rest of her life she was involved in Citizens Coordinate for Century 3 (C-3), along the way producing a book about the 1960s battle to save some of the great treasures of San Diego, published just before her death. SDIS members were quite familiar with her work in this area as she shared it with the Works-in-Progress Study Group. She leaves her husband, Loch, a retired architect, and a son.
AUDREY SPIRO was a member of SDIS since 1985. In the early 50s, Audrey and her husband Mel lived on a kibbutz and wrote Kibbutz: Venture in Utopia, published in 1955. She worked with Mel on a follow-up to those studies, Children of the Kibbutz: A Study in Child Training and Personality, published in 1975. Audrey earned a Ph.D. in art history from UCLA. Her studies focused on medieval Chinese visual arts. Her book, Contemplating the Ancients: Aesthetic and Social Issues in Early Chinese Portraiture, was published in l990. She is survived by Mel and two sons.
Mary Ellen Stratthaus
San Diego Independent Scholars (SDIS) supports unaffiliated writers and researchers and welcomes everyone who appreciates creative and intellectual activities in the humanities, science, and the arts. SDIS is a non-profit organization and an affiliate of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. Sam Gusman, President, email@example.com.
Scholar’s Notebook is the newsletter of SDIS. Please send your news for the Notebook to Barbara Heckler, the Notebook editor: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to 3489 Wellesly Ave, San Diego, CA 92122. The deadline for submissions is the 22nd of the month prior to publication date.