Colorado State Music and Brain Researcher Named President of International Neuromusicology Society

Michael Thaut, a leader in music and brain research and director of Colorado State University’s Center for Biomedical Research in Music, was named president of the newly formed International Society of Clinical Neuromusicology.

Thaut, who also is chairman of the Department of Music and co-executive director of Colorado State’s School of the Arts, was elected president at the society’s membership meeting in Hannover, Germany, in November. The society was founded by a prominent international group of neuroscientists, physicians, therapists and musicians to promote and support research in the neurobiology of music and applications to all forms of music learning, development and therapy.

"This is a deep honor, and I am pleased to be the Colorado State’s representative in gaining international visibility for music and brain research," Thaut said. "We want to help advance any understanding of how music educates and re-educates the brain in musicians, patients, young children, students and all of society."

The new society will support and advance applied brain research in music that is focused on medicine and rehabilitation, all forms of music education and music learning, and the benefits of music in childhood development. To support that end, the society will also support basic research efforts to understand the neurobiological foundations of music in the brain.  

In addition to this honor, Thaut recently received several other academic honors and research grants.

He received an honorary professorship in music on the faculty of Kurashiki Sakuyo Music University in Japan and will visit and lecture there once a year. A collaborative agreement was signed between Colorado State and Kurashiki Sakuyo Music University to pursue mutual projects, exchanges and research. The professorship and collaboration will promote valuable campus internationalization and professional development.

As a member of a team of Colorado State researchers, Thaut has also received a two-year, $380,604 research grant from the National Institutes of Health to examine methods that could improve the rehabilitation process for stroke survivors.

The project is a collaborative study between Professor Matt Malcolm’s NeuroRehabilitation Research Laboratory in the Department of Occupational Therapy and the Center for Biomedical Research in Music.

The BRAINSTIM Project will use magnetic stimulation to excite an area of the brain that controls voluntary movement. For 10 days, transcranial magnetic stimulation will be delivered to the stroke-damaged brain hemisphere. Following treatment, participants will undergo rigorous therapy to redevelop voluntary movement in stroke-affected limbs. This therapy, known as constraint-induced therapy, involves restraining the individual’s unaffected arm, which encourages them to use limbs affected by stroke.

Thaut received his master’s and doctorate degrees in music from Michigan State University. He also is a graduate of the Mozarteum Music Conservatory in Salzburg, Austria.

He was a visiting professor of music at the Mozarteum in 1985, and a visiting professor of Kinesiology at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1993. He also has been a visiting scientist in neurology at Duesseldorf University Medical School since 1995. He received the National Research Award in 1993 and the National Service Award in 2001 from the American Music Therapy Association.

He has more than 130 scientific publications and authored and co-authored four books. His works have been translated into German, Japanese, Korean, Italian and Spanish.

As a former professional violinist in the classic and folk genre, he has recorded chamber and folk music in the United States and Germany and has extensively toured in Europe with folk bands and chamber groups. He also is the author of a landmark anthology of Northern European and American fiddle music. In 1995 his group, Folk Chamber Ensemble, played three invited concerts at the Northwest German Summer Music Festival.  

For more information on the Colorado State University School of the Arts and the Department of Music, visit