Led by Charles Limb, MD, the Sound and Music Perception Lab at the University of California, San Francisco has been selected by the the National Endowment for the Arts, as one of four labs out of 44 applications to be granted $150,000, to investigate the value and impact of the arts in both arts and non-arts sectors via trans-disciplinary teams of researchers grounded in the social and behavioral sciences and based at universities.
The Sound and Music Perception Lab at the University of California, San Francisco will conduct studies to identify neural substrates for creativity across a range of art forms. This lab's principal activity will involve collecting and analyzing data from "genius improvisers" in music, the visual arts, and comedy. Participants in these three art forms will perform an improvisational task, compared with an appropriate control task, while their brains are scanned with a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) device. In addition, participants will complete a battery of assessments, including personality measures, tests of creativity, and tests of cognitive abilities. Researchers will work with SF Jazz, The San Francisco Art Institute, Second City Improvisation Troupe, and Speechless to design experimental tasks suitable for each artistic domain and will help recruit participants. The studies will serve as proof-of-concept for studying improvisation across artistic domains.