The research of the Music Cognition Group (MCG) has a special focus on the everyday listener, using theoretical, empirical and computational methods. The research program aims to identify the basic neurocognitive mechanisms that constitute musicality, effective ways to study these in human and nonhuman animals, and to develop methods to unravel the cognitive, biological and environmental mechanisms that underpin our capacity for music.
Over the years it has become clear that we all share a predisposition for music, just like we have for language. Even those of us who can’t play a musical instrument or lack a sense of rhythm can perceive and enjoy music. We will refer to this unique predisposition, in all its complexity, as ‘musicality’, defined as a natural, spontaneously developing set of traits that are based on and constrained by our cognitive abilities and its underlying biology. As such, ‘music’, in all its diversity, can be defined as a social and cultural construct that is built on this musicality (Honing et al., 2015).
In the coming years (2022-2026) the MCG will focus on the following research questions:
1a. What are the core cognitive components of musicality?
1b. What are the biological and environmental factors contributing to musicality?
Musicality is an ability that nearly all human beings possess: a set of traits that allows us to appreciate music. This research aims to identify these constituent traits by means of a series of listening experiments in the form of engaging memory-based games. Researchers: Dave J. Baker, Jiaxin Li, J. Ashley Burgoyne, Makiko Sadakata, Karline Janmaat, Henkjan Honing. This project is funded by NWO-OC (2022-2025).
2. What computational mechanisms and neural networks underly temporal expectations?
One core component, that currently gets special attention, is beat perception, using complementary evidence from computational modelling and neuroimaging. Researchers: Atser Damsma, Fleur L. Bouwer, Pilou Bazin, Henkjan Honing. This project is funded by UvA-ABC (2021-2023).
4. What do everyday listeners attend to when they listen to music?
We study everyday listening by developing listening games to find out about how listeners hear music, how their listening style compares to others, and providing a place where the music industry can test new ideas with the forefront of music cognition research. Principal investigator: John Ashley Burgoyne.
6. How to develop intrinsically motivating music listening games?
Infrastructural support for the projects that are listed above will be developed in the context of MCGs Amsterdam Music Lab. In this project we will design and implement a flexible and sustainable infrastructure for MUSic-related Citizen Science Listening Experiments (MUSCLE). Management: John Ashley Burgoyne, Berit Janssen, Henkjan Honing. This project is funded by PDI-SSH (2022-2024).