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Daniel Levitin is proof positive that profs on sabbatical don't just sit around thinking big thoughts. One of 40 innovative thinkers slated to present at The New Yorker Conference/2012: Stories from the Near Future later this week, the Director of the McGill Laboratory for the Study of Music, Cognition, Perception and Expertise, is popping up all over the mainstream media while on leave. Featured in a recent issue of Rolling Stone, Levitin discusses how his research—which includes having subjects identify Beethoven's 5th Symphony played entirely with power tools—suggests that music stimulates primitive parts of the brain below the level of conscious thought. Seed Magazine also carries the transcript of an extensive conversation between Levitin and singer, songwriter and artist David Byrne at STK in New York's meatpacking district, in which the two talk about everything from the soundtrack of Psycho to empathy and mirror neurons.
On a related note, Byrne has enlisted Levitin to play guitar with his band on a new song he's written and will debut at the Festival. How often do McGill professors moonlight as electric guitarists with major rock stars?
After his Detroit Red Wings lost the opening game of their National Hockey League Western Conference semifinal series 2-0 to the San Jose Sharks, head coach Mike Babcock decided to go a little old school. As reported in a number of papers, including the Detroit News, the Montreal Gazette and the Globe and Mail, the former All-Star defenceman for the McGill Redmen text messaged longtime sports information officer Earl Zukerman requesting a good-luck silk McGill tie be shipped to him before Game 2. The sartorial switch proved just the tonic for Detroit, as the Red Wings rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Sharks 3-2 in Game 2 to knot the series at one apiece. "The Redmen came through," Babcock was quoted as saying.
McGill media expert Marc Raboy had a few words of advice for Pierre Karl Péladeau, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quebecor Inc.: know your history. In a recent article in the Globe and Mail, the Beaverbrook Chair in Ethics, Media and Communication, drew parallels between the recent launching of a free newspaper by disgruntled workers at Le Journal de Québec and the rise of the Quebecor Inc. empire in the 1960s. "His father's empire took off when he took advantage of a lengthy dispute at [Montreal's] La Presse," warned Raboy.
In an article in the International Herald Tribune, Fred Genesee said that a child can acquire multiple languages simultaneously, simply through day-to-day exposure. The psychology professor says that kids who are exposed to a specific language at least 30 percent of their day usually have no problems learning it. As is often the case in multilingual families, such as the French/English families so common in Montreal, children pick up their parents' respective mother tongue simply through consistent use at home. According to Genesee, another effective strategy for multi-lingual families living in a unilingual community is for everyone in the household to speak one language at home and the predominant language when outside.