Patterns of Performance: The Neuroscience of Improving Experts

Learning Objective
The course provides students three things: knowledge of their brain, tools to change their brain, and real-world applications of these tools. 

Course Content
The course covers four major elements of neuroscience: Motor Ability, Mind-states, Emotion and Injury Prevention with three classes dedicated to each element. In each class, students begin with anatomy, first learning about broad brain areas and quickly focusing in on music and performance-specific brain modalities. Next, students learn about the forces that change these modalities, with specific attention for the science behind the rate of change. For example, is their neurological evidence that changing a bad habit takes more time than developing a new one? Why? Can the process be expedited or hindered and if so how? Finally, born of our new functional understanding of the brain in flux, the class strategizes on how to change their lives for the better, through new behaviors and schedules that encourage accelerated improvement.

Course details

teacher Beorn Nijenhuis
term January-April 2024
method of instruction Group lessons (weekly), individual coaching
readings Readings will be academically published papers pertinent to the subject matter (one per class). Examples for motor ability lectures:
  Ericsson, K. Anders, Ralf T. Krampe, and Clemens Tesch-Römer. 'The role of deliberate practice in the acquisition of expert performance', Psychological review 100/3 (1993), p. 363
  Mosing, Miriam A., et al. 'Practice does not make perfect: no causal effect of music practice on music ability', Psychological Science 25/9 (2014), pp. 1795-1803.
  Ward, Paul, et al. 'A re-evaluation of the nature-nurture debate.' in: Routledge Handbook of Talent Identification and Development in Sport (2017), p. 19.
assessment The creation of a structured month-long schedule replete with the application of strategies discussed in the course. A short essay describing what, how and why these strategies were employed.
credits 5
related electivesThe Musical Body
  Orchestral Practice and Audition Training