Society for Music Perception and Cognition

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:

SMPC bylaws

  • 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.

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

Elizabeth Margulis

Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis (2019-2020)

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.

Mike Schutz

Michael Schutz (2019-2021)

Michael Schutz is Associate Professor of Music Cognition/Percussion and a core member of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. He received a B.M.A. in Percussion Performance and B.S. in Computer Science from Penn State University, an M.M. in Percussion Performance and Music Technology from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Michael now directs the MAPLE (Music, Acoustics, Perception, & LEarning) Lab, teaches courses on the psychology of music, and conducts the McMaster Percussion Ensemble. His research on the multimodal nature of music, musical timbre and the communication of musical emotion is funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). He has also received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation. Michael previously served as SMPC Programming Chair (2013, Toronto) as well as on the SMPC Executive Board (2014-16). Ever courteous, he now only uses soft mallets when practising the marimba after hours to avoid upsetting his neighbors.

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.

Dominique Vuvan

At-Large Board Member
Dominique Vuvan (2019-2021)

Dominique Vuvan received her Ph.D. in Psychology with a certificate from the Program in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto in 2012. She was a postdoctoral fellow at the International Laboratory of Brain, Music, and Sound Research from 2012 to 2016. Currently, she is an assistant professor in the Psychology Department at Skidmore College. Professor Vuvan’s research focuses on the neurocognition of music, with particular interests in expectancy processing, language-music interaction, and individual differences.

Amy Belfi

At-Large Board Member
Amy Belfi (2019-2021)

Amy Belfi is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological Science at Missouri University of Science and Technology. She received her B.A. in Psychology from St. Olaf College, her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa, and completed postdoctoral training at New York University. Her research focuses on a broad range of topics relating to music perception and cognition, including music and autobiographical memory, aesthetic judgments of music, conceptual representations of musical entities, and musical anhedonia.

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. It’s been a while since she’s played the clarinet, so if you know a bassoonist, a French hornist, a flutist and an oboist in San Diego please let her know.

Bob Slevc

At-Large Board Member
Bob Slevc (2018-2020)

L. Robert (Bob) Slevc is an Associate Professor and Associate Chair of Psychology and part of the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science Program at the University of Maryland, College Park. He completed his B.A. at the University of Colorado Boulder, his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego, and his postdoctoral work at Rice University. He directs the UMD Language and Music Cognition Lab, where much of his research focuses on similarities and distinctions between the cognitive/neural processing of music and language. He is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Cognition and his research has been supported by the NIH and the Grammy Foundation.

Psyche Loui

Media and Communications Chair
Psyche Loui (2018-2020)

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.

David Baker

Student Member
David Baker (2019-2021)

David John Baker is a PhD candidate in Music Theory with a minor in Cognitive and Brain Sciences at Louisiana State University. His research looks to understand how the people learn melodies in order to improve pedagogical practices in aural skills education. Initially trained as a conservatory musician, David received his Bachelors of Music from Baldwin Wallace University and additionally has completed an MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths in London, England. Using his background in the humanities and training in psychological sciences, David builds testable models of how people hear music.

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: 2017-2018
President-Elect: 2015

Edward Large: 2014-2016
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