Moving to music is a ubiquitous, and sometimes unconscious, phenomenon that occurs in our everyday lives. Many often find themselves tapping their foot or bobbing their head to the music on the car radio while stopped at a red light without even noticing. Sam’s current work investigates the neural underpinnings of why humans enjoy moving to certain types of music that “grooves”. In particular, she is interested in the communication between motor and auditory brain areas when listening to music that’s “groovy”, or music that makes you want to move. She currently employs neuroimaging technologies such as electroencephalography (EEG) and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to investigate the following research questions:

  • Can listening to “groovy” music promote widespread motor area activation?
  • Is the motor system important in perceiving and feeling the “groove”?
  • Is the “groove” a universal phenomenon and is it perceived across development?
  • How does our understanding of a musical beat affect the way we perceive the “groove”?

Sam is currently pursuing this research as a Ph.D. student at the University of Las Vegas, Nevada. She is a member of the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory and the UNLV Music Laboratory.

Sam has 10+ years of neuroimaging experience. She has received training in EEG and TMS at the University of California, Davis (ERP Boot Camp) and the University of Southern California (Non-Invasive Brain Stimulation Workshop), respectively.

Before graduate school, Sam gained experience in other laboratories that has shaped her current interests in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. During her years at Northwestern University, she worked as a research assistant for the Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory collecting data for research projects investigating how auditory training can shape neural listening, measured via the auditory brainstem response (ABR). Her biggest contribution was with the ANL’s collaboration with Harmony Project, a Los Angeles-based non-profit music organization that grants scholarships and music lessons to children from gang-reduction zones.

In between her undergraduate and graduate careers, she worked at the University of California, Los Angeles on a collaborative project between Think Now, Incorporated and the Staglin Center for Cognitive Neuroscience investigating the neural mechanisms of attention in those diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Check out Sam’s research via ResearchGate, Google Scholar,, and her CV.

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