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.

May 2022

Statement from SMPC Board

Dear members of SMPC,

Last week we witnessed another hate crime carried out in the United States. On May 14th of 2022, a self-confessed white supremacist and antisemite carried out a planned attack in Buffalo, New York resulting in the deaths of ten victims and the injuring of three. The terrorist targeted a predominantly Black neighborhood and the majority of his victims were Black.

We again reaffirm our solidarity with the Black community, and again reaffirm our commitment to all marginalized people following this act of violence. We take this opportunity to remind our membership of the importance of condemning these acts in order to reemphasize where we as a community stand in times of mourning.

While the Society for Music Perception and Cognition (SMPC) is taking steps to create a more equitable and just community by directly addressing issues of race and equity over the past two years, we also realize that these efforts pale in comparison to the magnitude of loss and pain caused by these events.

The Anti-Racism and Equity Committee and Executive Board of SMPC

Statement from SMPC Board

Dear SMPC Community,

Black Lives Matter. We unequivocally stand with the Black community in the United States and condemn the racist violence perpetrated by police against black lives. We stand with those demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the hundreds of black people killed every year by police who do so with impunity. We are late to engaging with you on this, but today we want to be clear about where we stand.

There can be no equality in science until we as scientists work to be anti-racist every single day. We must acknowledge that this bias runs deep and commit to unlearning racism. We will work to create a plan of action to ensure that SMPC is an anti-racist organization, and we will be transparent about these efforts as they unfold.

SMPC Board

March 30, 2021

Statement from SMPC Board

Dear SMPC Community,

This month we have again witnessed horrendous, racist acts of violence. On March 16th of 2021, eight individuals, including six Asian women, were murdered by a white, domestic terrorist in the Greater Atlanta Area. 

These heinous acts of violence were undoubtedly motivated by white supremacy and represent some of the most aggressive and extreme acts of growing public aggression towards Asian, Asian American, and Pacific Islander (AAPI) communities.  As reflected in the most recent demographics survey of our members,  AAPI individuals represent the largest non-white demographic within our society–a society that exists for the purpose of supporting and nurturing our growing intellectual community. 

We would like to reaffirm our solidarity with–and commitment to–any and all marginalized people. As discussed in the recent town hall held by the SMPC Anti-Racism and Equity Committee on March 8, 2021, we wish to foster a culture of respect and communication. This tragedy affirms the need for our community as a whole and for us as individuals to work to make anti-racist choices every day. We must not be silent on these issues and continue to build infrastructure to work towards a more anti-racist society. 

As a society, we recently established an Anti-Racism and Equity committee to address these issues. In addition to continually educating ourselves on issues surrounding diversity, equity, and inclusion, some new initiatives of this committee include drafting a code of conduct for our organization, establishing the new role of an Equity Officer for SMPC, and authoring a recent editorial in Music Perception on ways to ensure that our society and work promote anti-racist principles. We are currently soliciting nominations for positions on this committee and would welcome feedback and input from our members. 

These horrific events do not go unnoticed and the Society for Music Perception and Cognition pledges to support its Asian, Asian-American, and Pacific Islander members in this time of mourning. 

SMPC Board

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 (click to open PDF):

  • 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.

Codes of Conduct:

SMPC is committed to promoting standards of ethics and professionalism, and as such has developed the following Code and Conduct Policies and Procedures (all links open a Google Doc link).


objectives of SMPC

The activities of the Society

The society host a biennial conference, 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 16th ICMPC will be held in 2021 collaboratively by various hubs around the world, headed by the University of Sheffield (UK). Visit the conference website for more information.


objectives of SMPC

Meet the Society Officers and Board

Jessica Grahn

President - Jessica Grahn
(2021-2022; President-Elect 2020)

Jessica Grahn is Associate Professor in the Psychology department and Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Her primary research examines the representation of temporal sequences in the brain. She also studies how music makes us move, how musical training changes brain structure, and whether music can affect cognitive abilities (such as memory or reasoning) or benefit patients with neurological disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. Dr. Grahn has degrees in Neuroscience and Piano Performance from Northwestern University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. Dr. Grahn’s research is supported by the James S. McDonnell Foundation, the GRAMMY foundation, Parkinson Society Canada, and several Canadian research councils.

Contact: president [a]

Peter Pfordresher

President-Elect - Peter Pfordresher
(2022; President 2023-2024)

Peter Pfordresher is full professor and chair of the Department of Psychology at the University at Buffalo, SUNY where he directs the Auditory Action and Perception Lab (APAL). His many years as a practicing musician provided the basis for his research interest in the cognitive bases of musical communication as it occurs during performance. The main question motivating his research concerns the way in which people retrieve complex event sequences in real time, whether in the course of perceiving or producing these sequences. He currently serves as associated editor for the journal Music Perception, and as a consulting editor for Attention, Perception & Psychophysics. His books include Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance (2nd edition, 2018, with Siu-Lan Tan and Rom Harré) and Sound and Action in Music Performance (2019).

Contact: president.elect [a]

Elizabeth Margulis

Past-President - Elizabeth Hellmuth Margulis
(2019-2020; President-Elect 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. 

Contact: president.past [a]

Dominique Vuvan

Secretary - Dominique Vuvan
(2022-2023; At-Large Board Member 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.

Contact: secretary [a]

Bob Slevc

Treasurer - Bob Slevc

Bob Slevc is an Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, where he is also part of the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS). His research focuses on the cognitive and neural mechanisms involved in the processing of music and language, and how these processes break down in brain-damaged populations. Bob received his Ph.D. at the University of California, San Diego and was a postdoctoral scholar at Rice University. He is an enthusiastic proponent of open science and open education, and he promises to be careful with SMPC's money. Visit his website

Contact: treasurer [a]

Adena Schachner

At-Large Board Member - Adena Schachner

Adena Schachner is Assistant Professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego, and the director of UC San Diego’s Mind and Development Laboratory. Dr. Schachner received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from Yale University, her Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University, and completed post-doctoral research at Boston University’s department of brain and psychological sciences. Dr. Schachner's research explores how children and adults reason about music and the social world, with a focus on the cognitive bases for links between music and social cognition. Her work also examines the origins of music and dance, from both developmental and evolutionary perspectives. Her lab employs a variety of experimental methodologies, including computational modeling and experimental methods with children and adults, in the lab and around the world via the internet. Dr. Schachner has been recognized with the Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science, and her research has been funded by the NSF, NIH, and APF.

Dan Shanahan

At-Large Board Member - Daniel Shanahan

Daniel Shanahan is an Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Cognition at Ohio State University. Before arriving at OSU, Daniel was director of the Music Cognition and Computation Lab at Louisiana State University, where he also taught undergraduate and graduate music theory. He previously taught music theory, history and cognition at the University of Virginia. Daniel’s research interests include the musical transmission, the diffusion of musical style, corpus studies, and the computational analysis of jazz and folk music. His work has been published in Music Perception, The Journal of New Music Research, The Journal of Jazz Studies, Cognition and Emotion, and The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, among others. Since 2012, Daniel has been the managing editor of Empirical Musicology Review, and since 2016 he has served as co-editor. He also serves on the editorial boards for Music Theory Spectrum, Musicae Scientiae, Indiana Theory Review, and the Journal of Creative Music Systems. He holds a bachelor’s degree in jazz composition from the Berklee College of Music, and a PhD in musicology from the University of Dublin, Trinity College.

Stephen Van Hedger

At-Large Board Member - Stephen Van Hedger

Stephen Van Hedger is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Huron University College and a Member of the Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario. Stephen received his A.B. (Music, 2009) and his Ph.D. (Psychology, 2015) from the University of Chicago. He completed post-doctoral training at both the University of Chicago and the University of Western Ontario. Stephen’s research examines the perceptual and cognitive factors that shape how listeners learn and remember details from their musical environments. Specific research topics include absolute pitch perception, implicit musical memory, statistical learning of musical structure, and the role of working memory in auditory learning. Stephen’s work has appeared in journals such as Psychological Science, Cognition, Music Perception, Cognitive Science, and Psychonomic Bulletin and Review. View lab website.

Grace Leslie

At-Large Board Member - Grace Leslie

Grace Leslie is assistant professor of Music Technology at Georgia Tech University where she directs the Brain Music Lab. She is an electronic musician and music cognition researcher, committed to harnessing the expression granted by new music interfaces to better understand the link between music and emotion, with an ultimate goal of employing musical brain-computer interfaces to promote wellness.

She completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Affective Computing Group at the MIT Media Lab, received her PhD in Music & Cognitive Science from UCSD, and was also a Neukom Fellow at Dartmouth College. She continues to collaborate with the Epilepsy and Cognition Lab at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center. She has also worked on psychoacoustic research and interactive sound installation projects with the Espaces acoustiques et cognitifs team at Ircam in Paris, and Audio DSP and User Experience design projects for Sennheiser, Kyocera, and Motorola. She completed her undergraduate and Masters work in Music Technology at CCRMA, Stanford University.

Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden

At-Large Board Member - Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden

Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden is assistant professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Mississauga. Her research investigates the perceptual, cognitive, and neural foundations of human communication in development, in particular: music and language. She specializes on speech and song attention, music and language processing from infancy to adulthood, and the use of music for improving language processing. She directs the Language, Music, Attention, and Audition (LAMA) lab.

Stefanie Acevedo

Media and Communications Chair - Stefanie Acevedo

Stefanie Acevedo is Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Connecticut. Her main research interests include musical expectation, the analysis and cognition of musical form, cognitive underpinnings for musical categorization and segmentation, and pedagogical applications of cognitive/psychological research. She holds degrees in music composition (B.M. - University of Florida), psychology (M.A. - University at Buffalo), and music theory (M.M. - Bowling Green State University and Ph.D. - Yale University). Visit her website. 

Contact: webmaster [a]

Tanushree Agrawal

Trainee Member - Tanushree Agrawal

Tanushree Agrawal is a PhD candidate in Psychology at the University of California – San Diego. As a member of the Mind and Development Lab, she studies social and emotional aspects of music cognition. She is particularly interested in why music is able to evoke incredibly strong emotional responses in listeners, and how such feelings may be prosocial in nature. Her current research program involves understanding the moral consequences of musicality: Does witnessing others’ capacity to experience music lead us to believe that they are higher moral beings, with a greater capacity for intelligence or emotion (joy, pain)? Tanushree's unconventional academic journey began at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She then worked as an Investment Advisor at Citi Private Bank in New York, before switching careers and obtaining her Master of Studies in Musicology from the University of Oxford. Prior to UCSD, she was a visiting research scholar in the Music Cognition Lab as well as the Working Memory Lab at Louisiana State University. Visit her LinkedIn site. 

Contact: traineerep [a]


Society Committees 

SMPC's committees aid in carrying out the regular business of the organization.
More information can be found here.


objectives of SMPC

SMPC Awards

Visit our awards page


Past Presidents

History of SMPC Board

Visit our Board History Page