Society for Music Perception and Cognition
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Psychology Today

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Science News (special issue: A Mind for Music)

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Acoustics Research Letters Online

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APA Journals

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Computer Music Journal

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About the Society for Music Perception and Cognition

Welcome to The Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC), a scholarly organization dedicated to the study of music cognition. Use our website to learn about this rapidly growing field, including information on researchers, conferences, and student opportunities. Join us as we explore one of the most fascinating aspects of being human.

The objectives of the Society

The Society for Music Perception and Cognition is a not-for-profit organization for researchers and others interested in music perception and cognition.

    The objectives of SMPC are:

  • to further the scientific and scholarly understanding of music from a broad range of disciplines, including music theory, psychology, psychophysics, linguistics, neurology, neurophysiology, ethology, ethnomusicology, artificial intelligence, computer technology, physics and engineering;
  • to facilitate cooperation among scholars and scientists who are engaged in research in this interdisciplinary field; and
  • to advance education and public understanding of knowledge gained.
  • SMPC bylaws

objectives of SMPC

The activities of the Society

The Society hosts biennial conferences, providing opportunities for members of the research community to present new research in the area of music cognition.
Past meetings have been held in a variety of cities, hosted by different institutions. In addition, SMPC cooperates with other organizations in music cognition to host international conferences.

The International Conference on Music Perception & Cognition (ICMPC), an associated international conference involving seven national societies is held on alternate years. The 14th ICMPC will be held in San Francisco from July 5-9th, 2016, organized by members of the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), Stanford University, UC Davis and UC Berkeley. Visit the conference website for more information.


Meet the Society Officers and Board

Justin London

Justin London (2017-2018)

Justin London is Professor of Music at Carleton College in Northfield, MN, where he teaches courses in Music Theory, Music Psychology, Cognitive Science, and American Popular Music. He received his B.M. degree in Classical Guitar and his M.M. degree in Music Theory from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, and he holds a Ph.D. in Music History and Theory from the University of Pennsylvania, where he worked with Leonard Meyer. He has published widely in music theory, music perception and cognition, and musical aesthetics. His current research is on micro-timing in the complex rhythms found in Malian drumming (with Rainer Polak of the Max Planck Institute for Empircal Aesthetics, Frankfurt, and Nori Jacoby of MIT) and on the cross-modal perception of musical tempo (with Petri Toiviainen of the University of Jyväskylä). Professor London was co-director of the 2005 Mannes Institute for Advanced Studies in Music Theory on Rhythm and Temporality, and in 2012 he served as co-chair of the Interdisciplinary College (IK) for cognitive science in Günne, Germany. He has held two Fulbright Fellowships, in 2005-2006 at University of Cambridge in 2014 at the University of Jyväskylä. He served as the Secretary/Treasurer of SMPC in 2002-2005 and as President of the Society for Music Theory in 2007-2009.

Elizabeth Margulis

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis (2018)

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis is Professor of Music and Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas. Before coming to the University of Arkansas, she was on the Music Theory and Cognition faculty at Northwestern University. She completed her PhD at Columbia University after an undergraduate degree in Piano Performance from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. In 2011-2012 she was a Visiting Fellow at the University of Cambridge, spending the year at the Centre for Music and Science. Her research focuses on the dynamic responses to musical structure that take place in listeners without formal training. It has been published in journals ranging from Music Perception and Psychology of Music to Music Theory Spectrum and Journal of Music Theory to Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Brain Mapping. Her book On Repeat: How Music Plays the Mind was released by Oxford University Press in 2013. She previously served as a member of the Board of Directors for SMPC and a member of the Executive Board for the Society for Music Theory. She has also chaired the Development Committee for SMT, launching a major fundraising initiative for the society. She currently serves on the Editorial Board of Music Perception. She has won a university-wide award for mentoring undergraduate research.

Jessica Grahn

Jessica Grahn (2016-2018)

Jessica Grahn is an Associate Professor at the Brain and Mind Institute and the Department of Psychology at the University of Western Ontario, Canada. She received her BA in Neuroscience and BMus in Piano Performance from Northwestern University, and her PhD from the University of Cambridge. Her main interests are in musical rhythm and its relationship to the motor system, mechanisms of human timing, and brain plasticity, using fMRI and neurological patient testing. She was program chair for the 2015 SMPC conference in Nashville. She has received the national Charles Darwin Award from the British Science Association for public engagement with science, and has appeared on the BBC and Discovery Channel. She has received Investigator Awards from the Ministry for Economic Development and Innovation, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, and the James S. McDonnell Foundation.

Erin Hannon

Erin Hannon (2018-2020)

Erin E. Hannon, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Psychology at University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). She directs the Auditory Cognition and Development Laboratory at UNLV. Erin received a B.A. in Psychology at the New College of Florida and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Cornell University. After that, she was Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard University before. Her research combines developmental and cross-cultural approaches to examine music perception and learning among infants, children, and adults, with a focus on rhythm and movement and examining acquisition of music and language in parallel. Her research has been supported by grants from UNLV and The National Science Foundation, and she recently was awarded the Black Mountain Fellowship at UNLV.

Reyna Gordon

At-Large Board Member
Reyna Gordon (2016-2018)

Reyna Gordon is a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, where she directs the newly-founded Music Cognition Lab. She holds a Bachelor of Music from the University of Southern California, a Master in Neuroscience from the University of Aix-Marseille, and a PhD in Complex Systems and Brain Sciences from Florida Atlantic University. Her research is currently focused on exploring the role of rhythm skills in language development and disorders, for which she has been awarded an NIH NIDCD grant. Her work has appeared in journals including Developmental Science; Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience; PLoS ONE; and NeuroImage. She has served as an ad-hoc reviewer for PLoS ONE, Psychology of Music, Developmental Neuropsychology, Archives of Medical Research, Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, & Brain, Music Perception, Journal of Neurolinguistics, and Speech Language and Hearing. Dr. Gordon is passionate about the mission of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and she is enthusiastic about fostering interdisciplinary research on the science of music and moving the field of music cognition into new and exciting directions. She spearheaded the bid to host SMPC 2015 conference at Vanderbilt and served as Co-Chair of the conference, which included an outreach event (Vanderbilt Music & Mind Kickoff to SMPC). She also participated in the drafting of an internal proposal for a new Program in Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt, which was recently funded by the Chancellor’s Initiative; and she is now one of the key individuals responsible for implementing this new cross-campus program.

Siu-Lan Tan

At-Large Board Member
Siu-Lan Tan (2016-2018)

Siu-Lan Tan is Professor of Psychology at Kalamazoo College. Born in Indonesia and raised in Hong Kong, she came to the US as an international student and completed degrees in Music, graduate studies at Oxford University, and a PhD in Psychology at Georgetown University.  She is co-author of Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance (by S.-L Tan, P. Pfordresher and R. Harré) published by Psychology Press in 2010, and co-editor of The Psychology of Music in Multimedia (edited by S.-L Tan, A. Cohen, S. Lipscomb, and R. Kendall) published by Oxford University Press in 2013.  Her research focuses on listeners’ perceptions of musical unity, graphic representations of music (most recently expanding a 1994 paper with data gathered in UK, Japan, and Papua New Guinea, forthcoming in Psychology of Music) and the role of music in film and other multimedia (most recently publishing a 2015 Keynote Address on film music at NYU, forthcoming in Music and the Moving Image). Her work appears in Music Perception, Psychology of Music, Psychomusicology, Empirical Musicology Review, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, and other journals. She received her institution’s awards for sabbatical research, teaching, advising, and in 2006, an award from the Michigan chapter of the national Campus Compact for civic responsibility and leadership in community initiatives.

Petr Janata

At-Large Board Member
Petr Janata (2017-2019)

Petr Janata is on the faculty in the Psychology Department and Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis. He received his B.A. from Reed College and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon. After investigating song perception and song learning in songbirds as a post-doc at the University of Chicago, he went to Dartmouth College and incorporated functional neuroimaging methods into his music perception research. His projects have examined expectation, imagery, sensorimotor coupling, memory, and emotion in relation to tonal, rhythmic, and timbral information. In 2010 he received a Fulbright Fellowship to do research at the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague, and in the same year he received a Guggenheim Fellowship to further his investigation of what music-evoked autobiographical memories can tell us about the functional organization of the brain. He served as a Member-at-Large on the SMPC Board from 2011 ‚€“ 2013. Since 2015 he has served as a Board member of the University of California multi-campus Music Experience Research Community Initiative (UC MERCI).

Sarah Creel

At-Large Board Member
Sarah Creel (2018-2020)

Sarah Creel is Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California San Diego. She majored in Music and Psychology at the University of South Carolina, before completing her PhD in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the University of Rochester, where she also studied the clarinet at the Eastman School of Music. Her main research questions are: How do people form memory representations of sound patterns, including speech and music? How does this change over development (between childhood and adulthood)? Creel has investigated how children and adults learn to recognize words, voices, accents, and musical sound patterns. Some of her more recent findings: children are more sensitive to timbre than to melodic contour (at least in the United States, but not in China!); voices are easier to recognize in your native language; young children are less adept than older children or adults at learning words, recognizing voices, and detecting foreign accents. Creel has authored over 40 journal articles and conference proceedings papers. She organized the 2017 conference of SMPC in San Diego, and served as Associate Editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition from 2015-2018. Itís been a while since sheís played the clarinet, so if you know a bassoonist, a French hornist, a flutist and an oboist in San Diego please let her know.

Psyche Loui

Media and Communications Chair
Psyche Loui

Psyche Loui is an Assistant Professor in Psychology and in Neuroscience and Behavior at Wesleyan University. She directs the MIND (Music, Imaging, and Neural Dynamics) Lab at Wesleyan. Psyche received her B.S. in Psychology and Music from Duke University in 2003 and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California at Berkeley in 2007. She then was Instructor in Neurology at the Harvard Medical School, with a hospital appointment in the Department of Neurology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). Her research aims to understand and apply the network of brain functions that enable subjective experiences such as the perception, cognition, and production of music. Ongoing projects tackle problems in auditory perception, auditory-motor interaction, and emotion and cognition, using tools from psychophysics and cognitive neuroscience as appropriate. Psyche is a recipient of Young Investigator Awards from the Templeton Foundation for Positive Neuroscience and the European Society for Cognition of Music and has held grants to date from the Grammy Foundation, Templeton Foundation, and NIH. Her research has been published in journals such as the Journal of Neuroscience, Current Biology, and Music Perception, and her work has been featured in the BBC, WGBH, Boston Globe, New York Times, MSNBC, Science Daily, and other news sources.

Jennifer Zuk

Student Member
Jennifer Zuk

Jennifer Zuk is pursuing her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology at Harvard University, as well as clinical certification in speech-language pathology at the MGH Institute of Health Professions. Jennifer received dual degrees in Music Education and Cognitive Science from Case Western Reserve University, and her Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Jenniferís doctoral research, supervised by Dr. Nadine Gaab at Boston Childrenís Hospital, examines how musical experience is associated with speech, language, and reading abilities. Her work employs behavioral and neuroimaging methods with young children from infancy to school age in order to investigate brain and behavioral correlates of these associations throughout child development. Jennifer has been awarded the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation New Century Scholars Doctoral Scholarship and the NIH Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Fellowship through the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders.


SMPC Achievement Awards

2017 award: Jay Dowling & David Huron

2015 award: Lola Cuddy

2013 awards: Mari Reiss Jones & Sandra Trehub

2011 awards: Eugene Narmour & Carol Krumhansl


History of SMPC Presidents

Past presidentsi
Past presidents gathered at SMPC 2017. From left: Carol Krumhansl, Ric Ashley, Diana Deutsch, Justin London, Andrea Halpern, Edward Large

Justin London: 2016-2017
President-Elect: 2015

Edward Large: 2014-2015
President-Elect: 2013

Andrea Halpern: 2012-2013
President-Elect: 2011

Aniruddh Patel: 2009-2011
President-Elect: 2008

William F. Thompson: 2007-2008
President-Elect: 2006

Mari Riess Jones: 2005-2006
President-Elect: 2004

Ric Ashley: 2002-2004

Lola Cuddy: 2000-2002

Carol Krumhansl: 1999-2000

Eugene Narmour: 1995-1998

David Wessel: 1992-1995

Diana Deutsch: 1990-1992
Founding President