MSc in Music, Mind & Brain

This unique programme combines music psychology with neuroscience, focusing on both the biological and cognitive aspects of musical behaviour.

Find out more about applying.

Applications must be submitted by 1 February 2015

About the department

1 year full-time or 2 years part-time.
If you're applying for funding, you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for home/EU applicants, or funding for international applicants.

See our tuition fees.
Contact the department
Contact Val West
Visit us
Find out about how you can visit Goldsmiths at one of our open days or come on a campus tour.

The MSc is highly interdisciplinary and draws on expertise from leading figures in the field, in areas ranging from music cognition, cognitive neuroscience, computational modelling, music education and music therapy.

Programme content

As a student on the MSc, you will learn about topics in music psychology (from perception to cognition) and the cognitive neuroscience of music, and will acquire all the necessary skills to pursue your own high-quality research.

Teaching staff

Programme directors Professor Lauren Stewart and Dr Daniel Müllensiefen are joined by an expert teaching faculty, all of whom have international profiles within the fields of music psychology and/or the neuroscience of music.

The programme benefits from good links with institutions such as the Institute of Education, the Royal College of Music, and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery.

Our Eminent Invited Speaker Series brings world-leading researchers to Goldsmiths to present their latest research to our students.

Further Information: 

Please read this journal article from Psychomusicology which outlines the focus and contents of the programme.

Keep up to date with our research via our facebook page.


Written examinations; written coursework (essays); oral presentations; research dissertation.

Applying and entrance requirements

You can apply directly to Goldsmiths via the website by clicking the ‘apply now’ button on the main programme page.

The MSc in Music, Mind and Brain is a truly interdisciplinary programme that attracts students from diverse backgrounds who want to complement their knowledge on music research, neuroscience or cognitive psychology. As a general rule, you should have a good background in at least one of these areas and preferably have already carried out a piece of empirical research.

Before submitting your application you’ll need to have: 

  • Details of your education history, including the dates of all exams/assessments.
  • The email address details of your referee who we can request a reference from, or alternatively an electronic copy of your academic reference.
  • A personal statement. This can either be uploaded as a Word Document or PDF, or completed online.
  • If available, an electronic copy of your educational transcript (this is particularly important if you have studied outside of the UK, but isn’t mandatory).

You'll be able to save your progress at any point and return to your application by logging in using your username/email and password.

When to apply

The deadline for receiving applications is February 1st. All applications received by this date will be considered. If the maximum number of places is not reached following this, a second deadline of July 1st will be used. We cannot guarantee that there will be places remaining beyond the February 1st deadline so application by the first deadline is advised.

If you're applying for funding you may be subject to an application deadline. Find out more about funding opportunities for UK/EU students and international students. 

Late applications will only be considered if there are spaces available.

Selection process

Candidates will be interviewed in person or by telephone to establish suitability for the MSc. Because the programme is highly interdisciplinary, we appreciate that some candidates may not have a strong background in all the key areas (psychology, neuroscience, research methods). However, we expect all applicants to be familiar with some of the music psychology literature and concepts in empirical research.

Entrance requirements

You should either have (or expect to be awarded) an undergraduate degree of at least upper second class standard in Psychology OR a background in music plus demonstrable knowledge and/or experience of empirical research. 

You might also be considered for some programmes if you aren’t a graduate or your degree is in an unrelated field, but have relevant experience and can show that you have the ability to work at postgraduate level.

We also accept a wide range of international equivalent qualifications, which can be found on our country-specific pages. If you'd like more information, please contact the Admissions Office.


Due to the popularity of this course, a deposit of £450 needs to paid to secure any offer made after applying for the programme. The deposit will be credited against tuition fees at enrolment.

English language

If your first language isn't English, you need to demonstrate the required level of English language competence to enroll and study on our programmes. 

Please check our English language requirements for more information.

Find out more about applying 

Contact us 

Please get in touch via our online form


+44 (0)20 7919 7766

International (non-EU)

+44 (0)20 7919 7702

Teaching Staff

Teaching on the Music Mind and Brain programme is shared by many researchers from within and outside Goldsmiths. See who are members of the core team within the psychology department, our eminent invited speakers, and our guest lecturers.

Co-director of the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain programme.

Research interests: Congenital Amusia, Learning and Expertise, Neuroimaging

Co-director of the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain programme.

Research interests: Musical Memory, Similarity Perception, Computational Modelling

Professor of Psychology.

Research Interests: Musical cognition, abnormal development, autism, savants

Professor of Psychology.

Research Interests: Neuronal Synchrony and Cross-Modality of Music Perception, EEG

Rory Allen

Associate Lecturer

Research Interests: Music, Emotions and Autism, Quantitative Techniques

Eminent invited speakers

(Since 2008)

  • Dr Joyce Chen, Deptartment of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford
  • Professor Stephen Clift, Professor of Health Education, Research Director of the Sidney de Haan Research Centre, Canterbury Christ Church University
  • Professor  Annabel  J. CohenDirector of the Auditory Perception & Music Cognition Research & Training Laboratory, University of Prince Edward Island, Canada
  • Professor Ian Cross, Director of the Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Simon Durrant, Research Associate, Neuroscience and Aphasia Research Unit, Manchester University.
  • Jamie Forth, Research Fellow, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London.#
  • Robert Fulford, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester
  • Dr Shinichi Furuya, Institute for Music Physiology and Musicians´ Medicine, Hannover University of Music, Drama and Media
  • Dr Bruno Gingras, Research Fellow, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Jessica Grahn, Research Fellow, MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Alinka Greasley, Lecturer in Music, University of Leeds
  • Dr Mick Grierson, Lecturer, department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Manon Grube, Research Associate, Institute of Neuroscience, Newcastle University
  • Professor Andrea R Halpern, Professor of Psychology, Bucknell University, USA
  • Professor David Hargreaves, Professor of Education, University of Roehampton
  • Professor David Huron: Professor of Music and Head of the Cognitive and Systematic Musicology Lab, University of Ohio, USA
  • Dr Stefan Koelsch, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Sussex
  • Dr Alexandra Lamont, Senior Lecturer, School of Psychology, Keele University
  • Professor Raymond MacDonald, Professor of Music Psychology, Glasgow Caledonion Institute
  • Dr Karen MattockDepartment of Psychology, Lancaster University
  • Dr Matthias Mauch, Royal Academy Research Fellow at Queen Mary, University of London
  • Dr Josh McDermott - Research Associate, Center for Neural Science & Howard Hughes Medical Institute, New York University.
  • Prof Steven Mithen, Professor of Archeology, University of Reading
  • Dr Iain Morley, Lecturer in Palaeoanthropology and Human Sciences, and a Fellow of St Hugh's College
  • Professor Adam Ockelford, Professor of Education, Roehampton University
  • Rohani OmarClinical Research Fellow at the Dementia Research Centre, Queen Square
  • Professor Larry Parsons, Professor of Psychology, University of Sheffield
  • Michelle Phillips, Faculty of Music, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Helen Prior, Music Department, Kings's College London
  • Dr Katrin Schulze, Research Fellow, Institute of Child Health, University College, London
  • Professor John Sloboda, Emeritus Professor, School of Psychology, University of Keele
  • Dr Neta Spiro, Lecturer, Centre for Music and Science, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Renee Timmers, Lecturer in Music Psychology, University of Sheffield
  • Dr Martine Turgeon, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Lancaster University
  • Dr Peter Vuust, Assistant Professor, Aarhus University and Royal Academy of Music
  • Professor Aaron Williamon, Centre for Performance Science, Royal College of Music, London

Guest lecturers

(since 2008)

  • Dori Berger, Music Therapist
  • Toni Brennan, Visting Tutor, Department of Psychology, University of East London
  • Dr Gianna Cochini, Lecturer in Neuropsychology, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Bruno Gingras, Research Fellow, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor John Gruzelier, Profesorial Research Fellow, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Elisabeth Hill, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Alice Jones, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Mats Küssner, Music Department, King's College, University of London
  • Joseph Leach, Research Assistant, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Chris Lee, Visiting Lecturer at the Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Wendy Magee, International Fellow in Music Therapy, Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability, London
  • Manuela Marin, Research Associate, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Marcus Pearce, Research Fellow, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Karin Rosenkranz, Department of Clinical and Experimental Epilepsy, Institue of Neurology, University College, London
  • Professor Joseph Sanders, Professor of Oboe, Guildhall School of Music
  • Dr Mirjam James Schlemmer, Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice
  • Dr Jose van Velzen, Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Dr Jason Warren, Institute of Neurology, National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery
  • Professor Graham Welch, Chair of Music Education, Institute of Education, University of London
  • Professor Geraint Wiggins, Professor of Computational Creativity, Department of Computing, Goldsmiths, University of London
  • Professor Aaron Williamson, Centre for Performance Science, Royal College of Music, London

Modules and structure

Core courses

Code Module title Credits
PS Music Perception 30 CATS

This module provides students with an understanding of how we perceive, represent and process sound with consideration of the relevant methodology. We start by considering the anatomy of the auditory system and the relationship between the physical attributes of sound and our perception of these. This provides the basis for considering how we perceive the elements of musical sound, such as pitch, rhythm and timbre. We consider how music perception is acquired, from infancy to adulthood and how music perception may differ cross-culturally. Complementary practical sessions provide the opportunity to understand classic paradigms from the field.

PS Cognitive Neuroscience of Music 30 CATS

This module focuses on high level aspects of musical behaviour, including learning, memory, expectation, emotion, creativity and improvisation, from a cognitive neuroscience perspective. In particular, we consider the relationship between expectation and emotion in music listening; the extent to which language and music are functionally related and the tools available to measure creative processes in musical performance. We additionally consider how (over) learning can result in the debilitating condition of musician’s dystonia, and also how music can be used in a clinical and rehabilitative setting. Complementary practical sessions provide an empirical angle to the module.

PS Foundations of Neuroscience 15 CATS

Students will gain an understanding of brain anatomy and functions and an appreciation of the available techniques to study the neural basis of behaviour. Strand one provides an overview of brain anatomy and function, from synapses and action potentials through to a consideration of the functional organisation of major brain systems; strand two covers the fundamentals of modern neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG, MEG, TMS), including a tour of state-of-the art facilities.

PS Research Skills 15 CATS

This module provides students with the core skills needed to become a successful researcher. This is achieved via two complementary strands; the first strand covers fundamental research skills: seminars on bibliographic searching, essay writing, research report writing, oral presentation skills and career planning and lab sessions in which students conduct, analyse and write up an experiment from the field of music psychology. The second strand exposes students to cutting edge research in the field of music cognition and neuroscience via the Eminent Speaker Series and involves the opportunity to produce a collaborative report from the series for the Music, Mind and brain blog.

PS Statistics and Experimental Design 30 CATS

This module provides students with the necessary skills and understanding to conduct independent empirical research. We will consider a range of different experimental designs, and the inferences that can be drawn from them. A wide range of statistical tests will be covered (t-tests, ANOVA, chi-squared, regression, correlation), with practical sessions concerning when and how to use them. 

This module can be challenging for students who are coming to it for the first time, but special care has been taken to ensure appropriate support is provided.

PS Research Project 60 CATS

This module provides students with the chance to design and pursue a substantial, independent research project on a topic of their choosing, with expert input from a nominated supervisor. Students will be offered a selection of possible projects but are also encouraged to generate their own ideas. External supervision may also possible, in cases where students have links to outside institutions.

As well as producing a written dissertation, students will have take produce and present a poster of their work to classmates and teachers from the programme.

Programme specification

To find out more about this degree, including details about the ways you'll be assessed and information about our marking criteria, you can download the programme specification.

Graduate Profiles


MSc in Music, Mind & Brain, (graduated 2012)

"I was impressed with Goldsmiths’ commitment to offering innovative, interdisciplinary courses."

"Originally from Dayton, Ohio, I graduated in May 2012 with a degree in Neuroscience and Music from Agnes Scott College, a small women’s college in Atlanta, Georgia. Whilst studying there, I had the opportunity to work as a summer research assistant for Annabel Cohen at the University of Prince Edward Island. Dr Cohen is a mainstay in the field of music cognition, and she introduced me to the MSc in Music, Mind and Brain at Goldsmiths. In getting to know other postgrads and what they were studying, I was impressed with Goldsmiths’ commitment to offering innovative, interdisciplinary courses.

Goldsmiths offered the perfect combination for me: a chance to experience life in London while gaining a degree in a discipline I’m passionate about, supervised by some of the best researchers in the field. Another reason I chose to attend Goldsmiths was the International Postgraduate Scholarship I was offered. When applying for funding, the lack of postgraduate scholarships for international students surprised me, but I discovered that Goldsmiths offered a number of international scholarships. My postgraduate bursary has helped make my experience at Goldsmiths possible, and I was honoured to have received the award."


MSc Music, Mind & Brain (graduated 2010)

"I developed a love of music at an early age, and by the time I began to think about career ambitions and university education, I had developed a very strong interest and affinity for psychology. Discovering the existence of the Music, Mind and Brain programme reframed my whole perspective and made it possible for me to plunge into a discipline which incorporates the intersection of these two domains.

The instructors are dedicated to passing on to the students the maximum amount of quality knowledge within the framework of the varied and always interesting lectures. Our skills and critical discernment are continuously honed by regularly reviewing professional articles. This and other tasks on the programme provide the basis for developing our academic writing abilities. The atmosphere in which the programme is grounded and conducted is inspiring for students, especially for those like me who are wed to both music and science."

David, USA

"The experience I am currently having in London studying on the course has been nothing short of excellent."

Coming from a background as a classically trained musician, I moved from living in the American Midwest to London to pursue more intellectual inclinations. I am currently pursing a Masters of Science in the Music, Mind and Brain (MMB) program with help from the Goldsmiths International Postgraduate Scholarship. The privilege of being granted an opportunity to study in London on such a generous scholarship has really opened up many possibilities that may not have been realized without it. I am able to take full advantage of everything my course, Goldsmiths, and London has to offer from lectures on neuropsychology, to opportunities to continue to play trumpet, to visit the neighboring countries. The experience I am currently having in London studying on the MMB course has been nothing short of excellent in preparing me for a career as an aspiring cognitive musicologist! (And whatever else I do along the way.) 



MSc Music, Mind & Brain (graduated 2011)

“My time at Goldsmiths was an extremely valuable experience, whether considering career development, friendships, or the personal development associated with living abroad."

"As a musician with a growing passion for neuroscience, the unique MSc programme in Music, Mind and Brain was a perfect fit for my interests, experience, and career trajectory. The opportunities to apply my interdisciplinary knowledge, gain hands-on experience with various technical and theoretical research perspectives, and to meet renowned scientists in my new field have been invaluable. These opportunities led directly to my current position as a PhD candidate in Neuroscience, studying how the brain processes musical rhythm and beat.

Beyond specific programme courses and research opportunities, the personal and professional relationships I made are a highlight of my time at Goldsmiths. I met many leading researchers in my field who came to Goldsmiths as guest speakers, and gained close friends within in my programme and beyond. Having a group of friends – with impressive international representation – working in my own interdisciplinary field has already proven a source of opportunity and fun.

Not least, living in London provided unique scientific, academic, and cultural opportunities that I would not have had elsewhere. I was able to engage with the rich academic context in London and the UK broadly, with opportunities to participate in conferences, workshops, and hands-on research at other institutions. Beyond Goldsmiths, education, and career orientation, London is an endlessly fun and vibrant city, and a year spent there is an opportunity not to be missed!"


MSc in Music, Mind & Brain, (graduated 2011)

"Goldsmiths is a fantastic interdisciplinary environment. I was fortunate to study alongside some very talented people from a variety of different backgrounds, which made for a great peer-learning experience."

"The department was keen to promote their work and get involved in big projects, and as a result we were able to team up with BBC 6Music for my online research project into 'earworms'. We really worked as a team within the department to gather as many participants as possible, which allowed me to gain experience in handling large scale data collection far beyond anything I had expected.

Consistent support and commitment from my supervisors allowed me to develop the research skills that now serve me well as a practicing research psychologist, and the opportunity to study a very specific topic that I was fascinated by ensured that I had a great time as well!"

Research projects

The following projects, conducted by past students on the MMB programme, exemplify the range of approaches and questions that can be addressed in the final year project.

Reliability and Validity of Gold-MSI, and links between Musicality and Intelligence - Amit Avron

The aim of the current study was to investigate the cognitive correlations between intelligence and musical sophistication as measured by the Goldsmiths Musical Sophistication Index (Gold-MSI). Study 1 evaluated the validity and reliability of the Gold-MSI questionnaire and listening tasks. Test re-test reliability of Gold-MSI questionnaire was high in both 14-day and 109-day retest periods. Convergent validity of the listening tasks, assessed by correlating them with AMMA (Advanced Measures of Music Audiation) was moderately high, although discriminant validity was low. Study 2 assessed the independence of musical abilities from intellectual abilities (IQ) as posited by the Multiple Intelligences (MI) theory. The two abilities moderately intercorrelated, which is in line with the hierarchical theory of intelligence and not with MI. This study also found a positive correlation between musical training and IQ, especially with verbal tasks. Executive functions did not mediate this relationship. Sensory discrimination is offered as a putative mechanism linking musicality and intelligence. The results are discussed in light of the limitations of the study and further research is proposed.

Does musical excellence make you sexier? An investigation into the sexual selection hypothesis in relation to music - Kathryn Casey

Darwin (1871) suggested that human music evolved through sexual selection. There is only a little scientific evidence which supports this theory, and this study aimed to add to that area. 137 participants completed an online questionnaire, rating the healthiness, trustworthiness and attractiveness of six singers before and after watching videos of them singing well or badly, listening to the good audio only whilst viewing a photograph, or only looking at a photograph. Participants perceived singers in the good videos to be more healthy, trustworthy and attractive than when they only saw their photographs, and more attractive than the same singers in their bad videos. Little difference was found between the audio video and audiophotograph conditions. These results offer support to the theory that music evolved through sexual selection, but more research is needed.

Can music be used functionally to promote creativity and analytical thinking within an office environment: An investigation in to the role of physiological arousal and working memory - Christopher Coupe

The current experiment explored the effects of different styles of background music on office employee’s creative and analytical reasoning performance. 68 employees from the advertising agency DDB UK were tested on 2 creative reasoning tasks (Working memory & Perceptual organization) and two analytical reasoning tasks (alternative uses tasks & figure ground reversal). During experimental tasks participants were exposed to music that they rated as Liked or Disliked. A control group also received no exposure to music. With consideration taken from past research this experiment aimed to investigate features of arousal and working memory and how they may mediate cognitive performance on both analytical and creative tasks in the presence of background music of different styles. It was also of interest to the current experiment to explore whether different job roles in the office could benefit more than others in the presence of background music. The results of the experiment suggest that exposure to background music that participants rated as Preferred scored significantly higher on both creative reasoning and analytical reasoning tasks. It was also suggested that un-preferred background music could actually inhibit analytical tasks performance. No effect for job type was observed. The results of this experiment are discussed in the light of research in to physiological arousal as well as working memory.

Atypical processing of pitch: A behavioural and electrophysiological exploration of the effects of autism traits and musical training - Lauren Hadley

Increased perceptual sensitivity has been frequently noted in relation to autism, pitch being one such area of enhancement (Heaton, 2003). However, though it has been proposed that autism traits extend across the general population (Piven et al., 1997), whether this is the case for perceptual enhancements has been little explored. Using the AQ (Baron-Cohen et al., 2001), this research investigated the relationship between autism traits and pitch discrimination in the neuro-typical population. Musical training was also investigated, due to enhancements in pitch discrimination also being evident in musicians. A forced-choice paradigm revealed accuracy to significantly correlate with musical training (a positive correlate of the attention to detail autism subscale). Difference in accuracy between verbal and analogue stimuli, however, was both found to decrease with musical training, and increase with autistic attention switching impairment. Electrophysiologically, N1 latency correlated negatively with communication impairment, and P3 was enhanced in relation to communicative and social deficits. These findings have significant implications regarding the conceptualisation of autism, implying a division between the cognitive style of the disorder and its symptomatology.

Exploring the Levitin Effect: Evidence for Absolute Pitch Abilities in the General Population - Kelly Jakubowski

Daniel Levitin’s 1994 findings that a sample of non-musician subjects could produce from memory the absolute pitches of self-selected pop songs have been widely cited in the music psychology literature. These findings suggest that implicit absolute pitch (AP) memory may be a more widespread trait throughout the population than traditional AP labelling ability. The present study sought to replicate Levitin’s 1994 study using a new sample population, as well as to investigate underlying factors which might contribute to success on Levitin’s sung production task. It was found that Levitin’s results could be replicated, though to a lesser degree. No effects of musical training, frequency of singing aloud, explicit AP, or relative pitch ability were found on performance on the Levitin production task. The findings suggested a positive influence of music-elicited nostalgia and a negative influence of music-elicited feelings of peacefulness on production task performance.

Spatial perception in real-life acoustics: A study of perceptual auditory information of reverberation and its effect in space perception in Musicians and Non Musicians - Neo Kaplanis

In everyday life, the sound that arrives at our ears is a cacophonous mixture of the sound source and reflections by nearby objects. Anecdotally reflections were claimed to provide critical information about the environment. However, when listening in small rooms these reflections normally fall into a ‘fusion’ interval whereby the auditory system isolates the sound emitting source from the perceived signal, while it attenuates the acoustical reflections; a process known as precedence effect. In this study we investigate the subjects’ ability to identify their location in an unknown Virtual Acoustic Space by listening to sound simulations. A group of fifteen professional Musicians and an equal group of Non-Musicians performed the task under two typical listening scenarios. Our results suggest that all subjects were able to extract spatial information contained in these ‘unheard’ and attenuated reflections as they were able to self-locate themselves in the virtual room accurately. In addition, Musicians demonstrated superior spatial perception abilities over Non-Musicians, suggesting links between space perception and musical training.

Sensorimotor synchronization of non-nutritive sucking to an auditory tempo in term infants - Trina Liew

Sensorimotor synchronisation refers to the ability to entrain one’s movements to a regularly occurring external rhythm like an auditory stimulus. Studies have mainly focused on the ability to tap to a beat in the adult population. There have been limited knowledge and mixed findings to date regarding children and infants’ synchronization abilities. The aim of the current research project was to replicate and extend Bobin-Bègue, Provasi, Marks, and Pouthas’s (2006) study examining synchronisation of infants’ non-nutritive sucking to an auditory tempo that was presented at their spontaneous sucking rate as well as at a 15% faster and 15% slower rate.

Three areas were investigated with regards to the temporal aspects of infant sucking to an auditory stimulus:

  1. adjustments of sucking tempo;
  2. synchronisation accuracy;
  3. phase preferences.

The results showed that:

  1. no significant differences in sucking rate were detected across the auditory tempi;
  2. bouts of synchronicity were found across all three auditory tempi for both newborns and 2-month olds;
  3. negative mean asynchrony (anticipated sucking) was demonstrated in all three auditory tempi by newborns while this was only demonstrated by the two-month-olds in the faster tempo.

Bouts of synchronicity are examined in the context of developing attentional synchrony and neural pathways underlying auditory-motor interactions in synchronisation. In addition, its potential clinical implications with regards to regulating and entraining preterm infants’ non-nutritive sucking are discussed.

Neural Correlates of Melodic Expectation in Musicians and Non-musicians - Ruth Reveal

The present event-related potential study considered the influences of expectedness and expertise within the framework of the Pearce and Wiggins (2004) statistical learning model of melodic expectancy. A significant main effect of expectedness was found for both an early negative component (N1) and a later positive component (P2), with unexpected tones eliciting greater amplitude components. Musicians showed a higher amplitude P2 for all expectedness conditions. The lack of an interaction between tonal expectedness and musical training suggests that musicians process auditory information more efficiently in general but do not show differences in the way they process expectedness in music. 

Investigating a causal role of the supramarginal gyrus for pitch memory using transcranial direct current stimulation - Nora Schaal

Functional neuroimaging studies have shown an activation of the supramarginal gyrus during pitch memory tasks. A previous transcranial direct current stimulation study using cathodal stimulation over the supramarginal gyrus reported a detrimental effect on short-term pitch memory performance; indicating an important role of the supramarginal gyrus for pitch memory. The current study investigated a causal involvement of the left supramarginal gyrus for the pitch memory process in nonmusicians by using anodal and sham transcranial direct current stimulation to see whether this has a significant effect on the performance across different pitch memory paradigms (recognition and recall). A face memory task, used as a visual control task, was included to determine whether effects are specific to pitch memory. The results show that the anodal group performed significantly better on both pitch memory tasks but performance did not differ on the face memory task. These findings provide strong support for the causal involvement of the supramarginal gyrus in the pitch memory process. Anodal stimulation over the supramarginal gyrus increased pitch memory performance significantly suggesting that the supramarginal gyrus could be responsible for the storage of pitch information in the memory process.

Strategies What Affects Musical Working Memory: Articulatory Suppression and Memory for Tonal Material - Lindsey Thompson

The overlap between music and language processing is under debate. In working memory, a divide exists on whether music is processed in the phonological loop like language or if music has its own component in the Working Memory model. The current study seeks to expand research conducted on articulatory suppression and tonal material by examining the effect of memory strategy on impairment of tonal sequence recall. Fluent English participants, grouped as either musicians or nonmusicians, used a visual memory strategy or musical memory strategy in either a silent or whispering condition in a repeated measures design. Results examined accuracy and participants’ comments, and suggest that a suppression effect occurred with the musical memory strategy but not with the visual memory strategy. This supports the claim that whispering during tonal rehearsal impairs recall due to a suppression effect, and that verbal and tonal material share an articulatory loop.


The programme will appeal to you if you are interested in pursuing doctoral research in this area or if you are already a music professional wishing to approach music scientifically. 

Graduates from the Music, Mind and Brain programme have gone on to work in one of the following areas:

  • Academia: Either pursuing a PhD, working in research position or engaged with university-level teaching
  • Music and media industry
  • Music practitioner or performer
  • Music teacher

Other careers that would be informed by this programme include music therapy, neuro-rehabilitation, music consultancy and music and adverstising.

Suggested Reading

We recommend that you familiarise yourself with some of the music cognition literature and concepts in scientific research before starting the course in September. 

Acquainting yourself with some of the recommended reading below will equip you well for the interview and for the course in general.


Some general advice about suitable background knowledge for a postgraduate programme in music psychology can be found on Dr Victoria Williamson's Music Psychology website.

We recommend that you familiarise yourself with some of the music cognition literature and concepts in scientific research before starting the course in September.

Acquainting yourself with some of the recommended reading below will equip you well for the interview and for the course in general.

Music Cognition

Hallam, I. Cross, and M. Thaut. (Eds.) (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology (2009). Oxford University Press.

Hodges, D.A. & Sebald, D.C. (2011). Music in the Human Experience. Routledge.

Honing, H. (2011). Musical Cognition: A Science of Listening. AldineTransaction.

Koelsch, S. (2012). Brain and Music. Wiley-Blackwell.

Lehmann, A.C., Sloboda, J.A., & Woody, R.H. (2007). Psychology for Musicians. Understanding and Acquiring the Skills. Oxford: University Press.

Tan, S-L., Pfordresher, P., & Harré, R. (2010). Psychology of Music: From Sound to Significance. Psychology Press.

Thompson, W.F. (2008). Music, Thought, and Feeling. Understanding The Psychology of Music. Oxford: University Press.

Foundations of Neuroscience

Ward, J. (2006). The student's guide to cognitive neuroscience. Psychology Press.

Experimental Design and Statistics

Field, A. & Hole, G. (2007). How to design and report experiments. Sage.

Field, A. (2005). Discovering statistics using SPSS (2nd ed.). Sage.

Additional Information

What kind of project can I do?

We offer a range of research projects, drawing on a variety of approaches: behavioural, computational, neuroscientific. Students are also invited to propose a project of their own choice, providing appropriate supervision can be offered.

If a student has a contact with an external supervisor, it may be possible to arrange for project supervision outside Goldsmiths with the involvement of a faculty member as co-supervisor. Examples of previous projects include:

  • Exploring Absolute Pitch in Children and Young People with Visual Impairment
  • An fMRI Study Investigating how Music Impacts on the Perception of Emotion
  • The Influence of Native Language on Rhythmic Grouping
  • Neural Correlates of Melodic Expectancy

Content last modified: 09 Apr 2015

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