The Music Cognition Career Journey of Dr. Amy Belfi.

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Jasmine Moradi:
I’m Jasmine Moradi, and you’re listening to The Power of Audio Science and AI. My guest today is my friend Dr. Amy Belfi. We met for the first time when I visited her at New York University in 2017, when she was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Department of Psychology. Today, Amy is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Missouri S&T, she is also a mentor and a teacher. Amy has a BA in Psychology from Saint Olaf College, and a PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa, and a Postdoctoral training from NYU.
 
Her amazing research is all about music and the brain where she’s super curious about answering questions such as, why does a song have the ability to evoke the feeling of chills down our spine, and why does music remind us of memories that we’ve long forgotten from our past? She has received 22 honors and rewards, reached 30-plus publications and when Amy is now conducting research she’s educating the world about her fascinated findings in major conferences in the world. 
 
In this episode, Amy and I are going to discuss the ins and outs of our research findings on how and why music influences our thoughts emotions feelings and behaviors.
 
With that Amy I welcome you, and thank you so much for joining us it’s so lovely to see you again. 
 
Amy Belfi:
Yeah, thanks so much for having me looking forward to it.
 
Jasmine Moradi:
How are you doing?

Amy Belfi:
I’m doing pretty well it’s finally springtime here so.
 
Jasmine Moradi:
I’m so excited to do this with you so let us jump into it. I’m curious to know when and what is your earliest memory of music?
 
Amy Belfi:
I remember like singing in church choir when I was really little like preschool age. I don’t have any really vivid memories though it’s just like very vague remembering like standing in front of the church singing little. I don’t know church songs, so I always kind of liked music and participated in music as a kid.
 
I also have like good memories of music class in elementary school. Like I really liked music class and I remember that we had a room with like a bunch of keyboards in it, and we would all practice you know learning how to read music and playing keyboard and stuff in elementary school, so that was really fun.
 
My first like really vivid memory of music is um getting a piano when I was 10 I think, and I remember like I’ve thought it’s probably my one of the most like excited moments I ever was in my life is when I like this big truck pulled up and like they pulled the piano out of it brought it into my house I was like so incredibly excited, but I was like around 10. But before that I mean I always liked music, but nothing really sticks out in terms of like a specific instance until that like piano moment.
 
Jasmine Moradi:
What about now? Do you play the piano or are you bringing music into your life?

Amy Belfi:
I was I mean like I was very into piano growing up like practiced a lot did a lot of competitions and stuff all through high school and then through college I took lessons um and then unfortunately since grad school. It’s like piano is not a very portable instrument so I really haven’t played much since college, but I’m like moving into a new house soon that’s bigger and I like determined we have a space for a piano, so I will get a piano someday and get back to it.
 
Jasmine Moradi:
So we both love music, but we also love science and digging into my own past I’ve always been super interested in science in terms of testing hypothesis in the real world. With your amazing research background in music and the brain I’m now curious to understand what was it in your inner motivational drive as a girl that draw your attention to scientifically seeking answers on how the brain responds to music?
 
Amy Belfi:
Yeah, that’s a good question. Like I said I’ve kind of always been interested in music always really liked music. When I was growing up I was always kind of considered music as a potential career, but I always really liked science and school and academics too. And so you know growing up I hadn’t really ever thought that science could be a career in the same way that like music i it’s fun which is funny too because I’m like probably the odds are better that someone would become a scientist and become a professional musician. But I just like piano I was like okay well maybe I’ll be like a music performance major and like try and become a professional pianist very unlikely. So once I realized that that was highly unlikely I just was like well I don’t know what I want to do then, and it really wasn’t like I said I was always interested in school and i always kind of liked I did science fairs as a kid and stuff, but no area of science really like clicked with me until I took a psychology class in high school. And then I was like oh my gosh this is like so interesting like finally like I found a topic that I’m so interested in. So I really liked all the psychology classes I took in undergrad, and I really liked doing research as an undergrad, but it didn’t even like click to me that I could kind of combine the two of like music and science until probably part way through my undergrad. I was reading like some papers about you know music like narrow imaging papers with like music and I just thought that was so cool and so then I was really lucky enough to be able to pursue that these topics when I got to graduate school.  But yeah it was kind of a long progression of like having these interests but not really combining them until later on in life.