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Humans may be the only species that speaks, but we are just one of many that sing, observes Tufts University Professor Aniruddh Patel. On Saturday, March 18, he delivered an Orcas Currents lecture on the subject, titled “Singing and the Brain.”

“How is human song similar to and different from the songs of other animals?” asks Patel. “Did humans develop singing and music for evolutionary purposes? And can regular singing influence our brains in positive ways?”

This lecture by a leading national authority in cognitive neuroscience addressed such questions and tried to assess how music is related to brain structure and function. Music lovers of all ages and stripes, with which this island abounds, attended this appealing and informative presentation.

Professor Patel joined Tufts University in 2012 after working as a Senior Fellow at The Neurosciences Institute in San Diego, California. He studies the relationship between music and language, exploring the mental foundations of these distinctively human abilities. His work employs many methods including human brain imaging, theoretical analysis, acoustic research, and comparisons with other species.

Patel has served as President of the Society of Music Perception and Cognition. He is author of the book Music, Language and the Brain (Oxford University Press, 2007), for which he won the ASCAP Deems-Taylor Award in 2008.

This event was cosponsored by Carl de Boor, Roger Sherman, the Orcas Choral Society, and the William and Valerie Anders Foundation. As for all Orcas Currents events, admission was free, but donations are gratefully accepted at the door.