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. Information about SMPC 2015 (which was held Aug. 1-5th, 2015, in Nashville, TN) is available online.

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

Ed Large

Ed Large (2014-2015)

Edward W. Large directs the Music Dynamics Laboratory at University of Connecticut, where he is a Professor of Psychology and Professor of Physics. Ed received his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University in 1994, and he did his postdoctoral work at University of Pennsylvania. Ed’s research areas include music psychology, auditory neuroscience and nonlinear dynamical systems. He uses theoretical modeling in conjunction with behavioral, neurophysiological and neuroimaging techniques to understand how people respond to complex, temporally structured sequences of sound such as music and speech. He and his colleagues have pioneered the idea that attention is a dynamic, and inherently rhythmic process. He has applied these ideas to explain the rhythmic structure of music, and its interaction with brain dynamics. His current research projects include auditory pattern recognition and learning, perception of tonality in music, auditory brainstem neurodynamics, cortical dynamics of attention, perception of rhythm in music and speech, rhythmic interactions in nonhuman primates and emotional communication in music. He serves as Associate Editor of Frontiers in Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience and Music Perception, and on the Scientific Advisory Board of the Institute for Music and Neurologic Function. He has previously served on the boards of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition and the Fulbright Association of South Florida. He is a National Science Foundation CAREER Award winner and a Fulbright Scholar.

Peter Pfordresher

Peter Pfordresher (2013-2015)

Peter Q. Pfordresher is associate professor of psychology and head of the cognitive area at the University at Buffalo, the State University of New York. He holds a BA from Georgetown University, an MSc from University College London and a PhD from the Ohio State University, all in psychology. His research focuses on the relationship between perception and action in the context of music and has appeared in journals such as Music Perception, Psychological Review, and the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. Specific lines of research include the role of auditory feedback in music performance, sensorimotor bases of poor-pitch singing, cognitive mechanisms for retrieval of music during performance, and the interplay between melody and rhythm during perception and production. He is co-author (with Siu-Lan Tan and Rom Harré) of the recent textbook Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance (Psychology Press, 2010). His service to the field includes serving as associate editor for two journals: Music Perception and Psychological Research,and as a consulting editor for Attention, Perception & Psychophysics.

Elizabeth Margulis

Elizabeth Margulis (2015-2017)

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.

Mary Farbood

At-Large Board Member:
Mary Farbood (2014-2016)

Mary Farbood is an Assistant Professor in the Music Technology program in the Dept. of Music and Performing Arts Professions at New York University. Her research focuses primarily on understanding the real-time aspects of music listening, in particular how emergent phenomena such as tonality and musical tension are perceived, in addition to computer applications for facilitating musical creativity that are based on cognitive models. She co-founded the Northeast Music Cognition Group (NEMCOG), an organization that brings together music cognition researchers in the Northeast Corridor region of the U.S. She has published articles in various journals and conference proceedings including Music Perception, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, Communications in Computer and Information Science, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference, and Proceedings of the Sound and Music Computing Conference. She has served on the program and review committees of a diverse range of national and international conferences including the Society for Music Theory Annual Meeting, International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, International Conference on Mathematics and Computation in Music, International Computer Music Conference, the Audio Engineering Society Convention, the International Society for Music Information Retrieval, and the ACM Multimedia. She received her A.B. from Harvard and S.M. and Ph.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In addition to her research activities, she directs early music ensembles at NYU and occasionally performs professionally as a harpsichordist.

John Iversen

At-Large Board Member:
John Iversen (2013-2015)

John Iversen is a cognitive neuroscientist studying music and the brain. After undergraduate studies in Physics at Harvard, John received graduate degrees in Philosophy of Science and in Speech at Cambridge, and received a PhD in Speech and Hearing Science from MIT. After a decade at The Neurosciences Institute in La Jolla, he is currently an Assoiate Project Scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation and the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience. His work has focused on the study of rhythm perception and production in music and language, spanning behavioral and neuroscience approaches. His work has addressed the role of culture in rhythm perception, whether rhythm perception is specially tied to the auditory sense, and brain mechanisms involved in generating the perceived beat in music. Increasingly he is directing this work towards applications to medicine and education. He is currently directing the SIMPHONY project at UCSD, a longitudinal study of the effect of music training on children's brain and cognitive development. Woven through this work is a desire to understand how we actively shape our perceptions of the world. John draws from a background in physics and neuroscience and a life-long interest in percussion, which currently finds expression through Japanese taiko drum performance with San Diego Taiko, a group that he co-founded in 2004.

Scott Lipscomb

At-Large Board Member:
Scott Lipscomb (2013-2015)

Scott D. Lipscomb, an SMPC member since 1990, is Associate Professor & Division Head of Music Education & Music Therapy at the University of Minnesota (UMN), where he also serves as Director of Undergraduate Studies & Associate Director for the UMN School of Music.  In addition to his primary research interest in multimedia cognition, he is currently collaborating on a variety of investigations related to surround sound presentation of movies and music, the effect of music in video game contexts, integration of technology in the music classroom, and music integration across the K-12 curriculum. Scott has presented results of his research at numerous regional, national, and international conferences, and his work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and edited volumes.  He is co-editor for a volume entitled The psychology of music in multimedia (Oxford University Press; anticipated publication Spring 2013). 

Michael Schutz

At-Large Board Member:
Michael Schutz (2014-2016)

Michael Schutz is Assistant Professor of Music Cognition/Percussion and a core member of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. He is the founding director of the MAPLE Lab, researching Music, Perception, Acoustics and LEarning, whose research is currently funded by the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Ontario Early Researcher Award. Michael enjoys assisting SMPC, having served on the Programming Committee for the 2011 meeting and subsequently as Programming Chair for the 2013 meeting in Toronto. Prior to his appointment at McMaster, Michael served as Director of Percussion Studies at Longwood University in Virginia, where he performed regularly with many ensembles including the Roanoke Symphony, Opera on the James, and the Oratorio Society of Virginia. In demand as both a performer and lecturer, he has been invited to give world premiers in venues ranging from PASIC (Percussive Arts Society International Convention) to the Digitalis Festival, and given invited lectures at the Maryland and Virginia Day of Percussion festivals, PASIC, and Project:Percussion. His unique academic background includes bachelor's degrees in both Computer Science (BS) and Music Performance (BMA) from Penn State University, in addition to a MM in Music Performance from Northwestern University and a PhD in Experimental Psychology from the University of Virginia.

Psyche Loui

At-Large Board Member:
Psyche Loui (2015-2017)

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.

Janet Bourne

Student Member:
Dominique Vuvan

Essential to our experience of music is the building up of expectations, and the fulfillment or violation of those expectations. I am interested in the cognitive determinants and neurobiological correlates of musical expectancy. I received my M.A. (2007) and Ph.D. (2012) in psychology from the University of Toronto. My graduate work, supervised by Dr. Mark Schmuckler, focused on the mental representations of musical structure underlying expectancy and the statistical processes by which expectancies are learned. I am currently a postdoctoral fellow at the International Laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound Research (BRAMS), in the laboratory of Dr. Isabelle Peretz. I use behavioural and neurophysiological, and neuroimaging techniques to study musical perception and production in congenital amusia, with the goal of contributing to our knowledge of the neurobiological mechanisms underlying amusia specifically and musical expectancy more generally.


SMPC Achievement Awards

2015 award: Lola Cuddy

2013 awards: Mari Reiss Jones & Sandra Trehub

2011 awards: Eugene Narmour & Carol Krumhansl


History of SMPC Presidents

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