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Music Cognition

The Music Cognition group, led by Dr. Marcus Pearce, focuses on understanding the experience of music as a psychological phenomenon. We study all aspects of music perception and creation using a combination of methods including behavioural testing, neuroimaging and computational modelling.

Further details of the members of the team, publications, opportunities and resources are available on the Music Cognition Group webpages.


Most of our current work falls into one of the following research areas.

Music Perception and Cognition: In this research, we study the way in which listeners represent and process musical structure, from low-level features of notes to high-level form. This includes study of the cognitive representations and processes involved in learning musical styles, generating expectations about music, grouping musical elements and analysing musical structure.

Empirical Aesthetics of Music: Music exists in all cultures and, in Western cultures, we spend a large proportion of our time listening to music. Why do we find music so pleasurable? Here we are interested in the psychological and neural processes involved in musical appreciation including emotion induction by music, preference and the experience of pleasure and beauty. The goal is to understand how properties of the music, the individual and context determine the nature of an aesthetic experience of music.

Psychophysics: Here, we are interested in low-level perceptual processing of acoustic features of music such as pitch, timbre, dynamics and loudness.


The Music Cognition group currently includes the following members:

Peter HarrisonMusic-theoretic and cognitive applications of symbolic music modelling
Dr Marcus Pearce
Senior Lecturer in Sound & Music Processing
Music Cognition, Auditory Perception, Empirical Aesthetics, Statistical Learning, Probabilistic Modelling.
Changhong WangAutomatic Classification of Chinese Bamboo Flute Playing Techniques
Adrien YcartMusic Language Models for Audio Analysis : neural networks, automatic music transcription, symbolic music modelling

PhD Study - interested in joining the team? We are currently accepting PhD applications.

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