As an undergraduate at Colorado College and later in the Yale University School of Music, I prepared for a career in music composition and theory. In this pursuit, I became interested in the question of what impact the temporal form of a composition can have on the feelings of an audience. Clearly, the ability to perceive and react to temporal form rests on the ability to store the history of events in memory and to interact this history with brain mechanisms governing emotions. I realized that I had to turn to psychology and neurophysiology in order to profitably explore the question of form and feeling.
One thing led to another, and now, many years later, I am a professor of physiological psychology running a laboratory devoted to studying drive and hedonic mechanisms in the brain and how they interact. While a graduate student in Neal E. Miller's lab at Yale, I discovered stimulation-bound feeding in rats implanted with electrodes in the lateral hypothalamus. Subsequently, my students and I have continued to examine the relationships between a "hunger'' system that is apparently involved and systems subserving reward, pain, and anxiety. What has become evident is that the same hypothalamic stimulation that elicits eating not only ameliorates anxiety and pain but also increases the attractiveness of otherwise unpalatable foods. Opioid and anxiolytic transmitters are implicated. Apparently, some mechanism is involved that adjudicates between the risks of eating, such as attacks from predators or illness from food poisoning, and the risks of starving as a result of avoiding such dangers.
In the process of making these investigations, my lab has also parametrically varied interpulse interval, amplitude, and conditioning-to-test-pulse interval of brain stimulation to ascertain the synaptic and axonal characteristics of the neurons mediating feeding, reward, and pain. In effect, I've taken my interests in studying the relationship between compositional form and audience reaction down to the neural level where cells are presented with electrical pulses in various patterns to study the effects these engender in the sense of reward, hunger, anxiety, and pain felt by the whole audience of cells we call the organism.