Neuroscience of Improvisation

Saturday, February 4, 2 - 4 pm

Neuroscience of Improvisation
Age Adult
Event Type Workshop
Department Theory and Improvisation
Day Sat
Instructor Bradley Vines
Status online event


This workshop aims to illuminate the neural underpinnings of improvisation and to share neuroscience-based insights for deepening your practice, whether as a performer or listening connoisseur. Understanding the neuroscience of improvisation will enrich how you experience and engage in improvisation in your art form and as part of your life, more generally. Recent neuroimaging research has revealed surprising and sometimes paradoxical relationships between brain activity and improvisation. These findings are informative in their own right, but taken in the context of research into dreams, meditation, and psychedelics, the neuroscience of improvisation informs our growing understanding of the neurobiology of consciousness. As part of the workshop, you will learn about improvisation from several perspectives, including brain health, addiction, and ego dissolution.

About Dr. Bradley Vines, Ph.D., M.B.A.

Dr. Vines is a cognitive neuroscientist specializing in music emotion, perception, and performance and a saxophonist. He holds a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from McGill University, an M.B.A. from the University of Oxford, and a B.A. in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley. He has postdoctoral research training in the Department of Neurology at Harvard Medical School and the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis and has been a Research Associate and Lab Director at the Institute of Mental Health in the University of British Columbia Department of Psychiatry. Bradley has received competitive grants for his research from the GRAMMY Foundation, the National Institutes of Health (NINDS), and the Michael Smith Foundation for Health Research. He has 26 academic publications to his name, which have been cited in the literature more than 2,700 times and referenced in major media outlets, including the New York Times, U.S. News and World Report, and Businessweek. His published work includes research on music for stroke recovery, the epigenetics of music learning, multisensory integration in the perception of music, neuroplasticity in fine motor coordination, and pitch memory. Most recently, he led research on music for psychedelic therapy as Chief Science Officer at Wavepaths and conducted research on music in advertising and sonic branding as Director of Neuroscience at Nielsen. He currently teaches Music Cognition for Berklee College of Music Online. As a saxophonist, Bradley has studied jazz improvisation in the William Paterson University Jazz program and privately with Gary Smulyan, Paul Nedzela, Knoel Scott, and Allaudin Mathieu. He has also studied South Indian Carnatic music with several prominent musicians in that tradition. Bradley has contributed to music for psychedelic therapy as a Wavepaths artist and has performed with musicians such as Eddie Gayle, Mel Martin, and Steve Turre.