Charles Limb

Healthcare Provider
Organization/Affiliation (no abbreviation): 
University of California, San Francisco
San Francisco, CA 94597
United States
Short biography and a description of your interest(s) in music and health: 
I have been studying the neuroscience of complex sounds using music as a model to help us understand the brain. I approach music as the most complex, challenging, and interesting form of sound in the world, and refer to it often as the pinnacle of hearing. From that perspective, my work branches in two related directions. The first is to understand how the brain gives rise to high level musical creativity, using improvisation as a prototypical creative behavior. This work involves high level jazz musicians, freestyle rap artists, and classical musicians skilled in improvisation, with an emphasis on creating scientific experiments that are firmly rooted in the real musical behaviors and practices of professional musicians. Through this work, I hope to unravel the mysteries of the creative brain, and to define a functional neural model of human creativity. The second major area of my work utilizes music as a tool to enable restoration of hearing in patients with deafness. In this work, I examine the difficulties faced by cochlear implant users in hearing music, whereas perception of speech is frequently excellent. I have examined neural substrates of musical perception in cochlear implant users, but also psychophysical investigations of pitch, rhythm, timbre, and harmony in this patient population. I firmly believe that music may provide highly useful experimental stimuli that will allow us to understand the limits of implant-mediated hearing, one day allowing us to restore 'perfect' hearing in individuals with severe to profound sensorineural hearing loss.
Collaboration Interests: 
cochlear implant, fMRI
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