back to news Dec. 6, 2018

Funding furthers research on connection between music, health

Hannah Bachman, a fourth-year student pursuing a dual degree in music theory and neuroscience, and Daniel Shanahan, assistant professor of music theory, discuss their work surrounding the intersection of music and health, which is made possible by the generosity of college alumni, donors and friends.

Hannah Bachman

Hannah BachmanDuring my first year at Ohio State, I focused my studies on neuroscience and researched music independently, but as my interest in music grew, I wanted mentorship and leadership on pursuing a better understanding of music cognition. The most meaningful way to pursue it was to get a degree.

My long-term goals never changed, just the journey I took to meet them. I always knew I wanted to use music to help people with their health as a doctor, but the dual degree will help me be more well-rounded and enhance the use of music in my medical practice. I’m interested in how the brain interacts with the soul, so I plan to go into osteopathic medicine, look at health holistically and focus my practice on the interaction between body, mind and soul.

Receiving the Women’s Glee Club Scholarship has helped me immensely; it was amazing to receive funding and to be a part of a group that makes such a difference in my self-confidence."

I have learned so much that will help in my career and research; it’s about listening to each other and hearing the people around you.

Right now, I’m working on my senior thesis. I am studying music perception in autistic individuals. Specifically, I am looking at how individuals on the spectrum perceive emotions in music and how it is different from a nonspectrum individual’s perception. It is an online study measuring the differences observed between general happiness, peace and the range of emotions music can evoke. I hope we are able to draw conclusions about how music elicits emotions out of different populations.

Daniel Shanahan

As a recipient of Ohio State's Music Cognition Post-Doctoral Fellowship, which allowed me to advance my research capabilities, my mentor sent me over to the Wexner Medical Center to consult with some neurosurgeons. I walked in and they asked me if I knew how to put on scrubs. To my amazement, they took me into the operating roomm where they were conducting brain surgery on a patient. It was deep brain stimulation, a procedure that can help people with diseases such as Parkinson’s to walk better and improve their gait.

Daniel ShanahanWhile I was in there, they talked to me about how the deep brain stimulations might also affect a persons since of rhythm, which would affect their music cognition. It was fascinating.

"The fellowship I received allowed me the opportunity to consult with neurosurgeons, and make important rhythmic connections." 

That is what is great about Ohio State — there aren’t academic silos. We have the opportunity to combine our studies and weave in and out of the arts or the sciences to provide information that broadens the research community. Scholars have been studying music cognition at Ohio State for almost 100 years. It’s something that Ohio State is known for.

I am currently looking experimentally and computationally at musical change in memory. I’m investigating what happens when music changes cognitively, and why does it change. It involves memory and working memory, and understanding how the mind can transmit a message. It surrounds why we change certain features of songs, when singing them later. My present study deals with memory and physical abilities, as well as musical abilities.

If you want to know more about the study of music cognition at in the College of Arts and Sciences please contact the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Laboratory at 614-292-7321. If you have questions about giving to the College of Arts and Sciences, please contact the Office of Advancement at 614-292-9200 or