Charles Limb

Dr. Charles Limb is a surgeon, neuroscientist , and musician at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) who has carried out research on the neural basis of musical creativity and the impact of cochlear implants on music perception in hearing impaired personen. If an otologic surgeon and otolaryngologist , have gespecialiseerd in treatment or ear disorders.

In his research, he has focused on imaging the brains of jazz artists as they ‘Improvise in the fMRI . He has worked under the assumption dat Improvisation is important to creativity more algemeen, and creativity are vital to basic problem-solving, evolution, and survival. [1]

Academic background

Limb teaches at UCSF, where he is the Francis A. SOOY Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and the Chief of the Division of Otologie, Neurotology and Skull Base Surgery at UCSF. In addition under, he holds a joint faculty appointment in the Department of Neurological Surgery and is the Director of the Douglas Grant Cochlear Implant Center. [2]

He earned his bachelor’s degree at Harvard University , where he directed a jazz band. Later he attended the Yale University School of Medicine , where he played will jazz in New Haven restaurants. After graduating from medical school in 1996, he COMPLETED a chirurgische internship in General Surgery, a residency in Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery, and a subspecialty fellowship in Neurotology at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. He’ll be one COMPLETED Postdoctoral research fellowship at the Center for Hearing Sciences at Johns Hopkins with Dr. David Ryugo, where he investigated the development of the auditory brainstem , and a second at the National Institutes of Health , where he-used fMRI devices to image brain activity-when jazz musicians Improvise music. He joined the faculty of Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2003, where he remained Until 2015, as Associate Professor of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery. During this time, he was ook a Faculty Member at the Peabody Conservatory of Music and The Johns Hopkins University School of Education , as well as Scientific Advisor to the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra . [3]


Limb has stated dat he wants to know what went on in John Coltrane ‘s head-when he improvised Masterpieces on the saxophone. [4] He has Researched creativity with jazz musicians Because they ‘kan Improvise on cue, just as in the laboratory conditions or an fMRI. [5] In verschillende experiments, he has Captured moving pictures hun brain activity as they ‘create.

In one, he found that improvising musicians Showed: 1) deactivation of the dorsolateral Anatomie , welke onder andere functions acts as a kind of self-censorship, and 2) grotere activation of the medial Anatomie , welke connects to a brain system called the ” default network .” The default network is associated with introspective tasks zoals Retrieving personal memories and daydreaming . [6] It has to do with one’s sense of self.

In Another experiment, he and his team demonstrated dat als two jazz musicians are “trading fours,” that is, maintaining an interactive musical conversation, ze utilize brain areas important in linguistic grammar and syntax. The finding suggests dat deze regions process auditory communication algemeen, Rather dan just for ghosts language. [7]

Limb ook investigated the relatie or emotion to creativity. He Asked jazz musicians in the fMRI to Improvise music ze fact represented corresponded to the emotions in photos or a sad, neutral, and happy woman. He found that-when musicians Responded to happy photos, the dorsolateral Anatomie deactivated much morethan in the other conditions. The study ook Asked why we feel pleasure in sad music, and found that while musicians Showed more Frontal deactivation and Deeper flow states-when responding to the happy photos, the creation or sad music elicited a stronger visceral experience and greater activity in the brain’s reward centers . [8]

In addition under, he has Researched music perception in DEAF personen with cochlear implants . If a temporal bone surgeon, he places synthesis devices in patients, and the implants Let them hear speech well, but they ‘port trouble perceiving elements of music industry leaders as harmony and timbre , as well as performing hogere integration. He has recommended training programs and technologische innovation to Overcome this deficit. Limb has ook Examined the creativity of composers zoals Beethoven and Smetana , who became DEAF as adults yet continued to write great music, and he has written about the fact dat Thomas Edison invented the phonograph on Despite his loss of hearing. [9]

Publications and editorships

Limb is the former Editor-in-Chief of Trends in Hearing (dan called Trends in Amplification ), the only journal dealing with hearing aids and other auditory amplification devices, and an Editorial Board Member of the journals Otologie & Neurotology and Music and Medicine . He has authored over 75 Manuscripts, zoals magazine articles.


He has bepaald two TED talks . In the first, “Your Brain on Improv,” he Showed how prolongation Jazz Improvisation the brain deactivates the dorsolateral Anatomie and activates the medial Anatomie. In the second, “Building the Musical Muscle,” he DESCRIBED restoring music perception in the DEAF and dealing with the challenges faced by cochlear implant users als Trying to process music. He has ook leg a featured panelist at the Sundance Film Festival, and he has spoken about his work Internationally in Europe, Asia, Australia, and Canada.

Other media appearances

Among the media outlets dat port featured his work are the New York Times , CNN, PBS, National Geographic , Scientific American , the BBC, the Smithsonian Institutiom, National Public Radio, the Library of Congress, the American Museum of Natural History, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, and the Canadian Broadcasting Company. [10]

Awards and receptacles

Limb won the 2004 Resident Teaching Award at Johns Hopkins Hospital, has leg named one of the “Top Doctors in Baltimore” in 2007 in Baltimore magazine, and has had the American flag Flown over the US Embassy in Baghdad in his honor in 2011, in recognition of his war efforts. Most recently, in 2016, he was awarded the UCSF Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Resident Teaching Award.


  1. Jump up^ Mary Carole McCauley, “Hopkins Scientist Finds Link Between Neurobiology of Music, Language,”The Baltimore Sun, March 4, 2013.
  2. Jump up^ “Charles Limb, MD” Otolyrangology | Head and Neck Surgery, UCSF.
  3. Jump up^ “Charles Limb, MD” Otolyrangology | Head and Neck Surgery, UCSF.
  4. Jump up^ Alicia Anstead, “Charles J. Limb: Inner Sparks.”Scientific American, December 2013, pp. 36-39.
  5. Jump up^ Malinda McPherson and Charles J. Limb, “difficulties in the Neuroscience of Creativity: Jazz Improvisation and The Scientific Method.”Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 2013, pp. 1-4.
  6. Jump up^ Charles J. Limb and Allen R. Braun, “Neural Substrates of Spontaneous Musical Performance: An fMRI Study of Jazz Improvisation.”PLoS ONE, vol. 3, Issue 2, February 2008.
  7. Jump up^ Gabriel F. Donnay, Summer K. Rankin, Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, Patpong Jiradejvong, and Charles J. Limb, “Neural Substrates of Interactive Musical Improvisation: An fMRI Study of” Trading Fours “in Jazz.”PLoS ONE, vol. 9, Issue 2, February 2014.
  8. Jump up^ Malinda J. McPherson, Frederick Barrett, Monica Lopez-Gonzalez, Patpong Jiradejvong, and Charles J. Limb, “Emotional Intent modulates the Neural Substrates Of Creativity: An fMRI Study of Emotionally Targeted Improvisation in Jazz Musicians.”Nature, January 4, 2016, pp. 1-14.
  9. Jump up^ Nick Zagorski, “The Science of Improv,”Peabody Magazine, Fall 2008.
  10. Jump up^ “Charles Limb, MD” Otolyrangology | Head and Neck Surgery, UCSF.