Press Releases

The Autistic Mind, Music, and The Brain Symposium March 22

Date Released: 2/11/2011

Scholars will present recent research on enhancing cognitive functioning through music as it applies to those on the autistic spectrum. Presented by the School of Natural & Social Sciences and the Conservatory of Music. Click for details.

The Autistic Mind, Music, and the Brain, a symposium presented by the Purchase College School of Natural and Social Sciences & Conservatory of Music will focus on recent research on enhancing cognitive functioning through music, specifically as it applies to those on the autistic spectrum. Leading researchers on the effects of music on the brain will participate in this day-long symposium on March 22 , 9 AM - 5:15 PM, in the Recital Hall, Music Building.


Nina Kraus, Professor of Neurobiology at Northwestern University will be the Keynote Speaker. Her talk is entitled, Music for the Development of Auditory Skills-Implications for Autism.


Celine Saulnier, Clinical Director of the Autism Program at the Yale Child Study Center will discuss Evidenced-Based Practices for Treating Autism Spectrum Disorders.


Jacqueline Birnbaum, Administrative Coordinator, and Nina Guerrero, Research Coordinator, of New York University’s Nordoff -Robbins Center for Music Therapy will present research data in their talk Music Therapy and Autism: Research and Clinical Illustrations.  


Meagan Curtis, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Purchase College will discuss Communicating Emotion in Speech and Music.


Isaac Ohring a 16- year old violinist from New Fairfield, CT will perform.

He is first violinist with the Danbury Community Orchestra and a violinist with the Not Ready for Prime Time Klemzer band from Danbury.  He is a high functioning autistic teen who composes music, plays the piano and sings in the New Fairfield High School Chorus.


The Music and the Brain series at Purchase College provides a forum for advanced thinking in the arts and sciences that aims to address issues that have a profound impact on peoples lives.


Admission including lunch is $100. To register call 914-251-6200 or   Purchase College is located at 735 Anderson Hill Road, Purchase, NY.



Biographical information on each of the speakers:


Nina Kraus, Ph.D., Hugh Knowles Professor, (Communication Sciences; Neurobiology & Physiology; Otolaryngology) at Northwestern University, directs the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory. Dr. Kraus investigates biological bases of speech and music. She investigates learning-associated brain plasticity throughout the lifetime in normal, expert (musicians), clinical populations (dyslexia; autism; hearing loss) and animal models. In addition to being a pioneering thinker who bridges multiple disciplines (aging, development, literacy, music, and learning), Dr. Kraus is a technological innovator who roots her research in translational science. Kraus was raised in a musically rich and linguistically diverse household.  She holds degrees in Biology and Neuroscience from Swarthmore College and Northwestern University.

Celine Saulnier, Ph.D., is an Associate Research Scientist at the Yale Child

Study Center and the Clinical Director for the Autism Program. She received her doctoral degree in Clinical Psychology from the University of Connecticut and then completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at Yale funded by the National Alliance for Autism Research. Presently, Celine conducts and supervises diagnostic evaluations for autism spectrum and related conditions from infancy through young adulthood. Her current research focuses on adaptive behavior deficits in autism, specifically on the discrepancy between cognitive potential and functional independence in higher-functioning

Jacqueline Birnbaum, a board certified music therapist and a licensed creative arts therapist, is the Administrative Coordinator and a Senior Therapist at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy at New York University, with over 25 years of experience in the field. She has a background in both early childhood education and music therapy, and has developed music therapy programs at a number of schools in the New York City area. In addition to her teaching, supervision, and clinical work at the Center, she has presented on the use of creative music therapy at numerous regional, national, and international conferences.


Nina Guerrero, a board-certified music therapist and licensed creative arts therapist, is Research Coordinator at the Nordoff-Robbins Center for Music Therapy.  She oversees ongoing studies at the Center on communication and social interaction in young children with autism spectrum disorders, and is involved in developing a collaborative intervention program for stroke patients in partnership with the Rusk Rehabilitation Institute, NYU Medical Center. She is completing a doctorate in music education at New York University.  Her previous research experience includes assisting in studies of speech perception and language development in children with hearing loss.  Her clinical experience includes establishing music therapy programs at preschools providing special education and related therapy services.


Dr. Meagan Curtis is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Purchase College. She received her Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College. Her research addresses the processing of music and language within and across cultures.




Isaac Ohring is a 16-year old violinist from New Fairfield, CT. He is first violinist with the Danbury Community Orchestra and, for the past four years, a violinist with the five-member Not Yet Ready for Prime Time Klezmer band that's been based in Danbury since 2006. In addition to playing the violin, Isaac composes traditional music, plays the piano, and sings baritone in the New Fairfield High School chorus. Isaac, a high-functioning autistic teen, studies classical violin with Alison Corigliano, and traditional Klezmer violin with Alicia Svigals, regarded by many as the world's foremost Klezmer violinist.


Marcia Klebanow is a Danbury based pianist who accompanies instrumentalists and choral groups. She is the President of the Danbury Music Association.