Music Perception and Cognition Lab, McGill University

This lab employs the techniques of digital signal processing, mechanics, psychophysics, cognitive psychology, psychophysiology, and cognitive neuroscience to understand what it calls ‘psychomechanics’: “the relations between the properties of mechanical objects and the perception of the events they produce.” The lab is particularly focused on questions about timbre, multimodal scene analysis, the temporal nature of music cognition and its relation to musical sound and structure.

The site includes links to music library and resources, online resources, psychology web sites, and collaborating institutions.


Brain and Cognition Lab, Oxford University

Although not a music perception/cognition lab per se, this lab combines behavioral and neuroscientific techniques (EEG, MEG, MRI, TMS) to tackle questions about temporal attention more generally. Many of the experiments employ rhythmic stimuli as a means of getting at these larger questions. The PI, Prof. Kia Nobre, is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on temporal attention, and her book “Attention and Time” is widely read in the field.

The lab website features standard links to collaborators, research questions, publications, etc., and also has a new blog.

Laboratory of Dale Purves, M.D., Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University


“Overview: Stimuli in other sensory domains, audition for example, are also ambiguous in that the physical properties of the stimulus cannot specify its real-world source. A statistical approach similar in principle to that used to rationalize the percepts elicited by visual stimuli can be used to explain why we hear tones the way we do.”

As the Director of the Neuroscience and Behavioural Disorders program at Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School and Executive Director of the Neuroscience Research Partnership at A*STAR, both located in Singapore, Purves has a lab in Singapore as well:

Rhythm in Music: What is it? Who has it? And why?

In his 2006 article, Bispham discusses human rhythmic abilities in the context of evolutionary theory and compares human and non-human rhythmic behaviors. What kinds of non-human rhythmic behaviors have been observed? What aspects of human rhythmic behavior are special or even unique? What is the evolutionary perspective on entrainment?

I invite you to share your thoughts on reading this article. Are there some aspects of the discussion that you find particularly useful when thinking about the nature of musical rhythm? (Please post an initial commentary by Monday, February 11, 11:59 PM.)

Music Dynamics Lab

The Music Dynamics Laboratory in Florida Atlantic University is focused on discovering the general principles behind the neural dynamics that underlie music perception and cognition, specifically they are currently testing processes underlying pitch, rhythm and tonality, the perception of song, and the experience of emotion in music.

On the website, they have provided links depicting the head of the lab, Dr. Edward Large, and the various people involved in the lab. There is also a link that leads to multiple publications produced by the laboratory, as well as a port to multimedia presentations describing its findings.

Regularity of unit length boosts statistical learning in verbal and nonverbal artificial languages

Just came across this abstract of a new publication by Hoch, Tyler, & Tillmann in the Psychonomic Bulletin Review:

“Humans have remarkable statistical learning abilities for verbal speech-like materials and for nonverbal music-like materials. Statistical learning has been shown with artificial languages (AL) that consist of the concatenation of nonsense word-like units into a continuous stream. These ALs contain no cues to unit boundaries other than the transitional probabilities between events, which are high within a unit and low between units. Most AL studies have used units of regular lengths. In the present study, the ALs were based on the same statistical structures but differed in unit length regularity (i.e., whether they were made out of units of regular vs. irregular lengths) and in materials (i.e., syllables vs. musical timbres), to allow us to investigate the influence of unit length regularity on domain-general statistical learning. In addition to better performance for verbal than for nonverbal materials, the findings revealed an effect of unit length regularity, with better performance for languages with regular- (vs. irregular-) length units. This unit length regularity effect suggests the influence of dynamic attentional processes (as proposed by the dynamic attending theory; Large & Jones (Psychological Review 106: 119–159, 1999)) on domain-general statistical learning.”

You can find the full report here:

How does these findings relate to musical meter?

“Speed” – an article by Oliver Sacks

I read this article last semester for a class, and thought it was completely fascinating – especially the descriptions of the patients with Parkinson’s and Tourette’s syndromes who have a completely different experience of time than other people. I thought this article brought up an interesting concept: that even “absolute” clock time can mean different things to different people. For many of us, an hour could be filled with a good workout, a nice meal, or reading a good book. For one of the patients described in this article, though,  an hour (or more) could simply be consumed with wiping his nose. Hope you all enjoy the read; I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Here’s the link: