Two broad approaches to studying musical memory are what we remember about music we heard and how we remember music. The most common method of investigating is what we remember about music, by asking listeners to generate song titles or to identify whether a song has been heard before. Another approach focuses on the organization of memory to understand how we remember music. Existing studies suggest that familiar music plays a crucial role in musical memory (Demorest et al., 2016; Andrea R. Halpern et al., 1998; Krumhansl, 2010), but how it is presented in memory is not fully understood.

A guiding principle of the current research is that musical memory retrieval involves in associations, namely musical relations (i.e., features of musical nature) and extramusical relations (e.g., category of music or episodic connections)(Halpern, 1984). Additionally, more recent research has demonstrated that culture has an effect on musical familiarity and on memory performance (Demorest et al., 2008; Patel & Demorest, 2013).

The aim of this project is to create a formalized memory model for familiar music. We are looking for an excellent and skilled Master student who will 1) analyse existing data; 2) formalize a basic recognition memory model for familiar music; 3) analyse the result of a listening experiment. The project will lead to a literature thesis or a Master thesis.


  • BSc in Brain and Cognitive Sciences, Musicology or related field;
  • Familiar with R;
  • Open-mindedness;
  • Interest in music cognition.


Are you interested in this project? Contact Xuan Huang via email.


Demorest, S. M., Morrison, S. J., Beken, M. N., & Jungbluth, D. (2008). Lost in translation: An enculturation effect in music memory performance. Music Perception. doi: 10.1525/mp.2008.25.3.213

Demorest, S. M., Morrison, S. J., Nguyen, V. Q., & Bodnar, E. N. (2016). The influence of contextual cues on cultural bias in music memory. Music Perception, 33(5), 590–600. doi: 10.1525/MP.2016.33.5.590

Halpern, A R. (1984). The organization of memory for familiar songs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory and Cognition, 10, 496–512.

Halpern, Andrea R., Bartlett, J. C., & Dowling, W. J. (1998). Perception of mode, rhythm, and contour in unfamiliar melodies: Effects of age and experience. Music Perception. doi: 10.2307/40300862

Krumhansl, C. L. (2010). Plink: ‘“Thin slices”’ of music. Music Perception, 27(5), 337–354.

Patel, A. D., & Demorest, S. M. (2013). Comparative music cognition: Cross-species and cross-cultural studies. In D. Deutsch (Ed.), The Psychology of Music (pp. 647–681). Elsevier Academic Press. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-381460-9.00016-X

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