‘Painting Music’ to celebrate Brain Awareness Week

Posted on: 15 March 2019

Brain Awareness Week is an international campaign to highlight the progress being made in brain research and to raise awareness of neurological conditions. Ireland is ranked 6th in the world for neuroscience research, so Irish neuroscientists are poised to make important discoveries that will advance our understanding of brain function and improve diagnosis and treatment of those living with neurological conditions. In Ireland alone, over 800,000 people live with neurological conditions such as stroke, epilepsy, Parkinson’s Disease and multiple sclerosis.

Painting Music : Sound as Vision via Synaesthesia – (L to R) Dr Richard Roche, Dr Timothy Layden, Dr Svetlana Rudenko, Prof Fiona Newell and Dr Áine Kelly

This special event to celebrate Brain Awareness Week “Painting Music: Sound as Vision via Synaesthesia” was organised by Dr Áine Kelly, a neuroscientist in the Trinity College Institute of Neuroscience and the education and outreach officer of the national neuroscience research society, Neuroscience Ireland.  “In this unique event, we illustrated the remarkable nature of how sensory information is processed in the brain by hosting a live simultaneous performance of musician Dr Svetlana Rudenko and painter Dr Timothy Layden in the beautiful surroundings of the College chapel. Both Svetlana and Timothy have a benign condition called synaesthesia – this is a type of sensory cross-activation that can result in people hearing colours or seeing sounds. We wanted to capture in real time Timothy’s visual interpretation of the music Svetlana was playing on grand piano”.


Dr Timothy Layden paints music at the special event to celebrate Brain Awareness Week.

The evening began with a description of the neuroscience of synaesthesia by Prof Fiona Newell, Professor of Experimental Psychology at Trinity College Dublin. Fiona explained how studying the brains of people with synaesthesia has opened a window into our understanding of how sensory information is processed in the brain. Svetlana then played 3 pieces on a Steinway grand piano – Sonata No. 5 by Scriabin, a series of preludes by Debussy, and finally Brahms’ Opus 117, Three Intermezzi. Timothy produced three very different canvasses in response to each piece of music and finished by describing the work he produced during a question and answer session moderated by Dr. Richard Roche of Maynooth University.

The event was supported by funding from the Provost’s Visual and Performing Arts Fund and the Federation of European Neurosciences.

Brain Awareness Week 2019 runs from March 11th to March 17th. For more information see www.loveyourbrain.ie

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