Charles Limb is a doctor and a musician who researches the way musical creativity works in the brain.

Why you should listen

Charles Limb is the Francis A. Sooy, MD Professor and Chief of Otology/Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, and he's a Faculty Member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music. He combines his two passions to study the way the brain creates and perceives music. He's a hearing specialist and surgeon at Johns Hopkins who performs cochlear implantations on patients who have lost their hearing. And he plays sax, piano and bass.

In search of a better understanding of how the mind perceives complex auditory stimuli such as music, he's been working with Allen Braun to look at the brains of improvising musicians and study what parts of the brain are involved in the kind of deep creativity that happens when a musician is really in the groove.

Read our Q&A about hip-hop studies with Charles Limb on the TED Blog >>

Plus our quick catchup Q&A at TEDMED 2011 -- including his top 5 songs of all time >>

Read the 2014 paper "Neural Substrates of Interactive Musical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of ‘Trading Fours’ in Jazz" >>

What others say

“If you think about it from a kind of abstract philosophical level, it’s unusual that acoustic vibrations in the air can make you feel deep emotion, something that can affect your life.” — Charles Limb in Urbanite Baltimore magazine

Charles Limb’s TED talks

More news and ideas from Charles Limb


On musical creativity: A talk to watch as you discuss the Grammy winners

February 11, 2013

The 2013 Grammy Awards, which aired last night, offered up many a surprise with indie-tinged acts grabbing major awards over more established contenders.  British folk-rockers Mumford & Sons (above) won the award for Album of the Year for Babel while electronic master Gotye took home Record of the Year for his infectious song “Somebody That […]

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