Music Cognition

This was a very interesting class that introduced us to the science involved with studying how the brain processes and makes sense of sound. Seeing the kind of work being done in the field of Music Cognition was fascinating, often beyond my full comprehension, yet fascinating, nonetheless.

I was particularly interested in the “Performance Expertise, Improvisation, and Anxiety” lesson. I have done a lot of shows over the years, and before some of them I felt perfectly fine, others I felt somewhat anxious, while some left me completely terrified. The recommendations for coping with Musical Performance Anxiety (MPA) were good reminders of what to do in both the short and long terms.

Suggested short-term strategies:
• Rehearsal
• Positive thinking
• Prayer
• Relaxation techniques
• Using calming substances

Suggested long-term strategies:
• Practicing and developing musical technique
• Talking with classmates, friends, teachers, family
• Relaxation techniques
• Counseling therapy

Thanks to our instructor Professor Bradley Vines for guiding us through this introduction to an incredibly complex area of research.

Here’s what we covered during the twelve weeks of the course.

Week 1 – “Cognitive Psychology and the Neuroscience of Hearing” – Jan 9th – Jan 13th
Introduction, Meet and Greet, Cognitive Psychology: What Is the Nature of Mental Activity?, Music Cognition: What Is Meant by Musical Behaviors?, Processing Stages, Experimental Psychology: Research Methods, Workshop: Vocabulary Review, Part 1, Discussion 1.1: Scientific Investigation, The Human Brain, The Auditory Pathway, Workshop: Vocabulary Review, Part 2, Workshop: Brain Structures, Neural Activity, The Hearing Mechanism, The Cochlea and How Hearing Works, Hair Cells, Workshop: Vocabulary Review, Part 3, Measuring Neural Activity in Humans, Electroencephalograms (EEG) and Event-Related Potentials (ERP), Magnetoencephalography (MEG) and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Galvanic Skin Response (GSR) and Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI), Workshop: Measuring Neural Activity, Discussion 1.2: Musician vs. Nonmusician, Assignment 1: Separating Sense from Nonsense, Recap

Week 2 – “Perception, Part I” – Jan 14th – Jan 20th
Introduction, Physical Correlates of Pitch, Physics of Sound Waves, Harmonics, Partials, and the Fundamental Frequency, Quiz 2.1: Physics of Sound, Theories of Pitch Perception, Virtual Pitch Perception, Absolute Pitch and Amusia, Workshop: Pitch Comparison, Discussion 2.1: Pitch vs. Timbre, Tonality Perception, Foundational Work, Innate Concepts of Tonality, Workshop: Tonality Perception, Timbre Perception, Psychological Correlates of Timbre, Link between Pitch and Timbre, Discussion 2.2: Learning Timbre, Assignment 2: Interpreting a Result Figure, Recap

Week 3 – “Perception, Part II” – Jan 21st – Jan 27th
Introduction, Object Perception: The Gestalt Principles of Organization, The Gestalt Psychologists, Gestalt Principles Important to Audio Grouping, Workshop: Gestalt, Auditory Scene Analysis, The Listening Context: Fission, The Listening Context Examples, Quiz 3.1: Gestalt, Rhythm Perception and the Internal Clock, Internal Rhythms, Rhythm Perception and Neural Oscillation, Workshop: Beat Markers, Rhythm Preferences, Regular vs. Irregular Patterns, Neural Connections for Beat Perception, Workshop: Beat Tapping, Discussion 3.1: Human Evolution, Assignment 3: Skimming a Research Paper, Recap

Week 4 – “Musical Development, Talent, and Creativity” – Jan 28th – Feb 3rd
Introduction, Music and Language, When Speech Becomes Music, Speech Acquisition, Parallels and Differences between Music and Language, Quiz 4.1: Music and Language, Testing Infants, Musical Constraints, Order of Acquisition of Musical Behaviors, Infant- and Child-Directed Songs, Learning Emotion in Music, Workshop: Match Musical Examples to Behavior, Musical Talent, Creativity, Creativity in the Brain, Quiz 4.2: Creativity, Discussion 4.1: Natural Musical Ability, Assignment 4: Follow-up Research, Recap

Week 5 – “Performance Expertise, Improvisation, and Anxiety” – Feb 4th – Feb 10th
Introduction, Musical Performance, Acoustic Correlates of Expressivity, Performers’ Signatures, Quiz 5.1: Performance, Musical Errors and Learning, Transfer of Learning, Musical Practice, Workshop: Experiment, Musical Improvisation, Performance Anxiety, Coping Strategies and Treatments, Quiz 5.2: Improvisation and Anxiety, Discussion 5.1: Show and Tell!, Assignment 5: What Do We Mean By “Good” Improvisation?, Recap

Week 6 – “Evolution and Cross-Cultural Music Cognition” – Feb 11th – Feb 17th, Introduction, The Evolution of Music, Music and Early Social Life, Workshop: Matching Terms: Evolution, Music and Speech, More Commonalities in Music and Language, Quiz 6.1: Music and Speech, Cross-Cultural Musical Behaviors, Intonation Perception, Quiz 6.2: Culture and Intonation, Discussion 6.1: Musical Behaviors, Assignment 6: Research a Language, Recap

Week 7 – “Music and Emotion” – Feb 18th – Feb 24th
Introduction, The Study of Music and Emotion, What Are Emotions?, Emotional vs. Non-Emotional Music, Workshop: Music and Emotion, Mechanisms of Musical Emotion, Workshop: Mechanisms of Musical Emotions, Musical Emotions and Physiology, Why Do We Like Sad Music?, Quiz 7.1: Physiology of Emotion, Discussion 7.1: Musical Performances, Assignment 7: Music and Emotion, Recap

Week 8 – “Music and Memory” – Feb 25th – Mar 3rd
Introduction, What Is Memory?, Localizing Memory, Workshop: Measure Your Memory Skills, Types of Memory Processes, Memory for Music, Workshop: Types of Memory Processes, Experiments in Music Encoding, Valence, Arousal, and Memory Encoding, Surface or Deep Structure Memorization?, Absolute vs. Relative Musical Memory, The Nature of Auditory Working Memory, Quiz 8.1: Experiments in Memory, Musical Imagery: Voluntary and Involuntary, Involuntary Musical Imagery: Earworms, Workshop: Musical Imagery, Discussion 8.1: Musical Memories, Assignment 8: Music and Memory, Recap

Week 9 – “Individual Differences and Music Preferences” – Mar 4th – Mar 10th, Introduction, Developing the Musician’s Brain, Biological Markers of Musicianship, Quiz 9.1: The Musician’s Brain, The Musician’s Brain, Synesthesia, Workshop: Match Sentences, Music Preferences and Personality, Measuring Personality, Correlations between Personality and Music Preferences, Quiz 9.2: Music Preference Dimensions and Musical Genres, Musicians’ Personalities and Career Choices, Discussion 9.1: Do Your Musical Listening Habits Reflect Your Personality Traits?, Assignment 9: Propose a Research Experiment, Recap

Week 10 – “Music Marketing and Branding” – Mar 11th – Mar 17th
Introduction, Background Music, The Work of North and Hargreaves, Workshop: Effects of Background Music, Sonic Branding, Celebrity Endorsements, Workshop: Sonic Branding Review, Multi-Sensory Integration, Sonic Seasoning, Coffee and Music, Ad Music and Cognition, Music’s Impact on Moral Choices, Quiz 10.1: Definitions, Discussion 10.1:, Assignment 10: Best Jingles of All Time, Recap

Week 11 – “Music Therapeutics and Intervention” – Mar 18th – Mar 24th
Introduction, Music Therapy for Neurological Disorders, Stroke Recovery, Melodic Intonation Therapy, Quiz 11.1: Neurologic Music Therapy Review, Music for Well-Being, Pre-Term Infants, Cancer Treatment, Sports Performance, Workshop: Music for Well-Being Review, Music in Communities, Classrooms, Work Songs, Quiz 11.2: Music in Communities Review, Discussion 11.1: Music While You Work, Assignment 11: Music Therapy Interventions, Recap

Week 12 – “Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning” – Mar 25th – Mar 31st
Introduction, Machine Learning as a Creative Tool, Workshop: Machine Learning, Musical Metacreation (MuMe), Performing Robots, Workshop: MuMe and Performing Robots, New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME), Ubiquitous Music, Workshop: NIME and Ubiquitous Music, Discussion 12.1: Musebot Music, Reply, Assignment 12: Research and Summarize Findings, Recap