News Release: Emory Healthcare , Research , Woodruff Health Sciences

Oct. 21,  2011

"A Family Affair" to Spotlight Music and the Brain

Annual Event Raises Funds for Emory's Alzheimer's Disease Research Center

News Article ImageJames Lah, MD, PhD; Allan Levey, MD, PhD; Janet Cellar, DNP; Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director

On Thursday, October 27, Emory University’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center (ADRC) and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will come together for “A Family Affair.” The event, chaired by Madeline and Howell Adams, will feature dinner and a concert.

Themed "Music and the Brain," the evening will combine music and a presentation highlighting recent research demonstrating the effectiveness of music in delaying the onset of neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s. A study published by Emory neuroscientist Brenda Hanna-Pladdy, PhD, demonstrated that childhood music lessons may pay off decades later, even for those who no longer play an instrument, by keeping the mind sharper as people age.

"As physicians, we have long known that listening to music can reduce stress and enhance experiences," said Allan Levey, MD, PhD, director of Emory’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and chairman of the department of neurology at Emory. "Yet, it wasn’t until Dr. Hanna-Pladdy completed her research on the impact of studying a musical instrument in our youth that we fully comprehended the role of music education in delaying the aging of the brain."  

Led by Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Music Director and Emory University Distinguished Artist in Residence Robert Spano, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra will perform the U.S. premiere of Esa-Pekka Salonen’s Nyx in Atlanta Symphony Hall at the Woodruff Arts Center. The program also will include Scriabin’s Poem of Ecstasy and Rachmaninoff’s The Bells.    

"To me the transformative power of music has always been both an article of faith and a core fact of my personal experience," says Spano. “I find the recent research of Emory neuroscientist Dr. Hanna-Pladdy showing that early childhood musical training provides increased plasticity in brain development that increases cognitive capacity and protects against age-related cognitive declines such as Alzheimer’s, profoundly fascinating and affirming."  

Sponsored by the Coca-Cola Company, the event will help raise funds to support the Emory ADRC‘s cutting edge research, education and clinical care. “A Family Affair" will honor James Lah, MD, Phd, vice chair of the department of neurology at Emory and clinical core director of Emory’s ADRC, as well as Janet Cellar, DNP, administrative director of Emory’s ADRC.

Emory’s ADRC is a National Institutes of Health-funded center focused on clinical trials and research for Alzheimer’s disease. The only comprehensive program in Georgia and one of only 29 nationwide, the Emory ADRC seeks cures through basic laboratory research bringing new diagnostic methods and treatments to the clinic and providing patients and their families with access to state-of-the-art care and advances.  

Members of the Host Committee include:
Sue and John Wieland, Robin and Hilton Howell, Nita and Mack Robinson, Pearlann and Gerry Horowitz, Betts and Dennis Love, Rhonda and Bert Ponder, Carolyn and Lem Hewes, Emily and Mike McIntyre, Andrew and Gretchen Taylor and Carolyn and Andrew Young, among others.  

For more information about “A Family Affair,” contact Mary Rose Taylor at or call 404-841-7100. To learn more about Emory’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, visit


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

Learn more about Emory’s health sciences:
Twitter: @emoryhealthsci

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