Brain and Music. My internship in Finland

After finishing my Master studies in Interdisciplinary Musicology at Kaunas University of Technology, I had intentions to apply for doctoral studies in the field of musicology (history and theory of arts) at the same university. As I had this half a year gap (I graduated in January and I could apply for doctoral studies only in July), I wanted to spend the time purposefully and invest into my professional future. Thanks to my Supervisor at the university and Coordinator of International Partnerships at Partners4Value I had an opportunity to find a very interesting place for my international internship. Therefore in March I went to Finland to join Brain and Music Team at Cognitive Brain Research Unit (CBRU; Faculty of Behavioural Sciences at the University of Helsinki).

As I find it very interesting to use an empirical approach in research, explore affective response to music and discover fascinating aspects in correlation between music and imagery and/or feelings induced by music, I had a chance to experience all this during my internship in Helsinki – I was working with a research project related to music-induced emotions. My internship lasted for four months and during that time I learned a lot about EEG (electroencephalography) as this is the primary technique used in the project, and after about a month of training I could conduct experiments, record and analyze EEG data by myself. I also could attend CBRU scientific seminars, relevant courses and meetings.

Two main reasons why I chose Helsinki were that a) I wanted to go to a Scandinavian country and b) my supervisor (from KTU) had lived there for a while so he suggested the place. I am really glad that I spent the spring in Helsinki as it is not only very beautiful (I love its nature!), live, historical, but also safe and friendly. I enjoyed living in a city which has a lot of parks, beautiful landscapes and, of course, very nice people.

In summary, I learned a lot not only as a person living in a foreign country, but I also gained solid – theoretical and practical – knowledge of cognitive neuroscience of music and experience in conducting brain research using EEG method. This international internship was highly appreciated when I applied for my doctoral studies (bearing in mind that we do not have similar brain research centers in Lithuania which would focus on investigating music and emotions) and now I continue my research as a doctoral student at KTU in a similar direction including interdisciplinary studies and, of course, my experience gained in Helsinki.

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