Prof. Dr. Erik Scherder Dutch neuropsychologist
Prof. Dr. Erik Scherder, Dutch neuropsycologist and author of the scientific book “Singing in the brain” gave a Masterclass on Dutch TV about the effects of music on the brain. André Rieu has read it with extraordinary interest and adviced the Professor to produce a light version of the book, which will be released soon.
Article from De Telegraaf/Privé, May 6, 2018. Translation: Ineke/John. Prof. Dr. Erik Scherder (Neuropsychologist) enjoys his new life. Before he even knew it himself and after a few appearances on "The World Continues to turn" (Dutch TV program), Prof. dr. Erik Scherder (66) grew into a celebrity who now has his own TV program. The professor, who is beloved by his students, teaches all of the Netherlands about the workings of our brain. Striking is the link he has with the showbiz world. From that world he receives hints, and he himself also gives hints... He is currently camping on the Greek island of Ikaria, where the residents grow old beyond average. That appeals to Prof. Dr. Scherder. It is not for nothing that the professor of neuropsychology started a second life a few years ago at the Free University, as a popular TV presenter. His new career started in October 2013, as a guest appearance on a popular Dutch TV talk show. That went so well that he was regularly asked back. Before he realized it, Scherder grew into a well-known Dutchman, who saw his 'audience' of dozens of students in the lecture halls expand to more than a million viewers on the screen and - also - in sold out theatres throughout the country. Broadcast Company MAX gives Erik Scherder a private TV-program: "MAX Masterclass". The professor will give lectures in three episodes about and in succession, music (Singing in the brain), stress and language. Does it appeal to you to be becomming a Known Dutchman? "It occasionally leads to funny events, yes. Also here on this Greek island, where I am now for the recordings of the TV-program "Methusalem". As you know, there are hardly any tourists here. But yesterday we were in a village away from here and I heard someone call my name out very loudly. I looked around and there was a friendly lady, who said: "I thought it was you. I thought if I would shout "Erik" very loudly, he would be the one and would turn around." How would a brain specialist explain that phenomenon? "That has to do with associations, right? But the reactions are actually always very nice and positive. Especially after a Masterclass out in the country, people come to me very enthusiastically. Recently someone said: "I did not understand everything, but understood a lot." Isn't that great? That is the entire intention. Society pays us and in this way we do something back." You are also part of the 'Three Professors'. "A wink to the Three Tenors, yes. Professors Dick Swaab, Henk-Jan Honing and I regularly give Masterclasses throughout the country. These are also lectures in which different themes are discussed and with which we provide insight into the functioning of the brain. We let people speak, with whom we have been involved in our work. Aphasia patients. Yes, you hear it correct, we let them speak. They search for words. A man who can only say "beautiful, beautiful", but in the meantime started a whole new career as an artist. Very special!" And there are more links with the showbizz. "A man who participates with the theater programs, a top guitarist, and who has worked with a well-known Dutch singer, was struck by a very serious stroke in 2006. Now he plays the music for the program. He composes again with his good hand and sometimes he also performs with us. His story is very special and inspiring, and it is nice to see that so many people are so very interested in it".
A world being opened for them. "Yes, that is why I am so happy with the opportunity which the manager of Broadcast company Max is now giving us. The idea of the Masterclasses can of course last a long time: this year with me, next year with someone else. We’ll kick the first episode off with music. We are looking into the question why music has such a big influence on the brain and its functioning. Why we can enjoy music in this manner, why it relaxes us so, or why cannot we sit still when we hear certain music. What does it do to Parkinson's disease, Autism and Dementia? Most often it is about expectations. It is when you know a certain piece is coming. Then that tune is suddenly there and then you want to listen to it again. The brain then releases a substance called "dopamine", a neurotransmitter which releases a kind of reward effect. Something you desire, something you then receive. British singer Adele has a few hits to her name. "Hello" for example, in which music is played by the composer. That particular moment is being postponed, it arrives actually just a bit too late, reinforcing the effect even more. And because of that, it has become such a hit. A good song has to comply with that. Hear it one or two times and sing along." Reaction from André Rieu. "Singing in the brain", is the title of my book. One of the nicest reactions I received was from André Rieu. First he complimented me on the title, after which he told me that he had read the book with extraordinary interest. But he also had some advice. 30,000 copies have already been sold, but he found it far too technical. "Who wants to read all those scientific terms?" Based on his advice we are now producing a "light-version" book, which will be released soon. I was invited to his New Year's concert, in Amsterdam with 12,000 people. Then you do not know what you are experiencing, do you? People are already starting to waltz while waiting in line at the ticket window! With the Second Waltz, (his breakthrough with the general public), he reaches the ultimate dopamine effect with the audience. When that music piece by Shostakovich is played, everyone is happy! He is an exceptionally sympathetic person. I dedicate the light-version book to him." Is there still time left to do other things? "Yes certainly! The Masterclasses throughout the country and that TV stuff, I do that all alongside normal work and it is precisely there that something interesting happened, to which I will put my heart and soul into. Later this year we'll start the “Daan Theeuwes Center“ in the town of Woerden. The planning is very special. In this center young people with severe brain damage will undergo very intensive rehabilitation treatments in a customized environment. We know this leads to surprisingly good results. As a result many young people will no longer have to go to a nursing home for the rest of their lives. Daan Theeuwes himself is in his twenties, he is the role model for this center. We are also developing an additional program, for young people who a few years ago experienced a brain injury and became lost in the treatments. It is precisely through intensive and motivating rehabilitation that a lot can still be achieved. I am very closely involved with a number of fellow scientists at the Daan Theewes Center". There is a TV program called "Brain gymnastics". Does that really work? "It reinforces what you have learned, yes. Successions, remembering a shopping list. But if you really want to do your brain a favor, start with something completely new. For instance a photography course, you name it. It then seems that you are even putting brain areas at work which have nothing to do with the course in question. Isn't that quite unique? "
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