Newsmaker: Parker Tichko ’10 studies brain’s response to music

-As a musician and composer, Parker Tichko ’10 believes in the power of sound. He works as lab manager at the Auditory Cognition and Development Lab at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where music is always on the brain. Under the lab’s principal investigator Dr. Erin Hannon, Tichko manages research experiments that study the links between music and language, learning and perception, and works primarily with infants: “We observe how infants respond to specific sound patterns such as speech or music, and how such behavior is modified as a result of listening to cultural-specific music and languages. We also study how children from ages 4 to 12 perceive different types of meter in a variety of music, and whether short-term exposure to complex meters can influence their performance on certain listening tasks. We are also currently studying adults who speak tonal languages to understand how they perceive pitch information in both music and language domains.” His double major in music and psychology led to his interest in the role music plays in cognitive development: “The psychology of music has a rich history,” he says. “I’ve always been consumed by music, but I was pleased to discover a salient connection between my two interests, psychology and music, while at Wheaton.” Tichko’s experience at Wheaton prepared him well for a position in research, where his responsibilities include designing and running experiments, recruiting participants, and hiring and supervising research assistants. Guidance from Professor Rolf Nelson, the course “Lab in Cognition” with Professor Jason Reiss, and a senior seminar in music with Professor Guy Urban were instrumental in his path toward a career in psychological research, he notes. In addition to his work at the lab, Tichko also writes about music theory, cognition,  and popular and classical music on his personal blog: