Maestro Eitan Globerson: The Neuro Pianist

A concert pianist and conductor who has performed and given master classes worldwide, Dr. Eitan Globerson uniquely synthesizes his distinguished music career with a novel scientific quest at BIU's Leslie and Susan Gonda (Goldschmied) Multidisciplinary Brain Research Center, where he received his PhD in 2012.  Currently affiliated with the center's Magnetoencephalography (MEG) laboratory – the only one of its kind in Israel – the postdoctoral researcher probes the perception of melody, using state-of-the-art imaging to track brain responses of normal individuals to pitch, rhythm, loudness, timbre (tone quality) and other auditory attributes.


"I like the Gonda Center's interdisciplinary orientation, its uncompromising level of research and productive dialogue between experts in the psychological and computational areas associated with brain sciences and linguistics," says Globerson, whose lead BIU supervisor is Prof. Avi Goldstein.


His PhD dissertation, which resulted in two scientific papers, examined prosody (the rhythmic and intonational aspect of language) in individuals with autistic spectrum disorders (ASD). His findings show that there is a strong association between the ability of people (particularly in the autistic spectrum) to distinguish between close frequencies in musical tones, and their ability to recognize emotion in voice.


Because of the interdisciplinary nature of his PhD research, he had a total of four supervisors, including BIU's Prof. Michal Lavidor, head of the Cognitive Neuroscience Lab and Dr. Ofer Golan of the Department of Psychology as well as two faculty members from the Department of Communication Disorders at Tel Aviv University's Sackler Faculty of Medicine.


Initially a physics and math major when he embarked upon his academic career, he switched after one year to music, and later, opted to pursue a degree in brain science. "It was very challenging but then again music is also a demanding profession," notes Maestro Globerson.


Dean of Performing Arts at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance and musical director of the Academy's Mendi Rodan Symphony Orchestra which he founded, Globerson has conducted all major orchestras in Israel, including the Israel Philharmonic. He also gives guest lectures at leading institutions, including Yale Graduate School of Music and the Beijing Conservatory, and is conducting two other research projects in the US and Israel besides his current study at BIU. He co-authored a paper, "The Neuro-Pianist," (Frontiers in Systems Neuroscience, July 2013) which explores strategies employed by professional concert artists to optimize their practice and performances. "While not directly related to my BIU research, this work – like my other brain research – is a result of my studies at the Gonda Center, and the knowledge I gained here." 


Going solo with his dual expertise in music and brain science, Eitan Globerson is a hard act to follow as he broadens our grasp of music cognition and psychoacoustics  and masterfully performs as BIU's foremost "neuro-pianist."