Music 257: Neuroplasticity and Musical Gaming


Music 257 is an interdisciplinary course looking at neuroplasticity and how it can be leveraged in musical gaming. Students from various backgrounds and disciplines will learn about how to apply concepts in neuroscience to game design.

Lectures will be comprised of current research in neuroplasticity and auditory physiology. Labs will focus on learning how to design and implement video games from a neurological perspective. The basics of interaction design, video game design and sound engineering will be covered to give students the tools to create their own games. The final group project will be a video game that teaches a new skill using neuroplasticity.

Official Description

What changes in a musician’s brain after hours and years of daily practice? How do skills that make a great violinist transfer to other abilities? Can directed neuroplasticity be used to target skill learning? Music 257 covers fundamentals of psychoacoustics and auditory neuroscience with an emphasis on targeted neural adaptation. Students will develop video games in Unity that use perceptually motivated tasks to drive neural change. Emphasis will be on music, linguistic, and acoustic based skills. Projects may include development for virtual reality and/or biofeedback. Students will present projects in annual Arcade event at conclusion of the course. Programming experience is highly recommended, but not required.

About the Professor

Poppy Crum is Chief Scientist at Dolby Laboratories. At Dolby, Poppy directs the growth of internal science. She is responsible for integrating neuroscience and knowledge of sensory perception into algorithm design, technological development, and technology strategy. At Stanford, her work focuses on the impact and feedback potential of new technologies with gaming and immersive environments on neuroplasticity.

Poppy also represents scientific interests among external standards bodies and scientific organizations. She is currently a U.S. representative to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), a member of the Stanford Research Institute Technical Council, and was a fellow of the US Defense Science Research Council. Prior to joining Dolby Laboratories Poppy was Research Faculty in the Department of Biomedical Engineering at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine where her research focused on the functional circuitry of the auditory cortex. Poppy is a Fellow of the Audio Engineering Society. She completed her: Post-Doctoral work at Johns Hopkins in Biomedical Engineering; PhD at UC Berkeley in Neuroscience/Psychology; M.A at McGill University in Experimental Psychology, and B.Mus at the University of Iowa in Violin Performance.

A Quick Note About This Website

The Music 257 course website is being reconstructed for Spring Quarter 2018. This overhaul is intended to better serve students in the course, but as a result some content may not be immediately available, some content may be added throughout the quarter, and all content is subject to possible change. If you are a student in the course and have a suggestion for how the website could be improved, please let Mark or Poppy know.


Fridays, 10:30 AM - 12:20 PM
CCRMA Classroom (Knoll 217)


Tuesdays, 6:00 - 7:50 PM
CCRMA Classroom (Knoll 217)

Office Hours

Monday 6-8 PM
Friday 1-2 PM
CCRMA Ballroom


Post on Piazza


Poppy Crum

Mark Hertensteiner
Teaching Assistant