Cognitive Psychology of Music (PSY 355M)

Professor: David Gilden
Office: SEA 5.118
Office hours: By Zoom appointment

Study Questions


You can access the readings for class here. Some of the readings are in PDF format, and others are links to other websites.

NOTE: To view pdf files, you need Adobe Acrobat reader. If you do not have Acrobat Reader, you can download it here.

Physics of Sound

Strings, standing waves, and harmonics*
Standing waves and wind instruments
Standing wave demonstration*
Standing wave superposition (video)*
Standing wave superposition (demo; requires Java plugin)*
Standing waves (Wikipedia entry)*
Harmonic series
Pipes and harmonics
Singing bowl
When colored sounds taste sweet (Beeli, Esslen, & Jäncke, 2005)*
When colored sounds taste sweet (supplementary information)
NPR: The physics of music


Just vs equal temperament*
Just intonation vs. equal temperament
Just Noticeable Difference*
12 golden notes*
Magic number seven (plus or minus two) (Miller, 1956)*

Pitch & Key

Random music generator
Octave generalization in monkeys (Wright et al., 2000)*
A bayesian approach to key-finding (Temperley, 2002)
Probe tone ratings figure (Krumhansl, 1999)

Brain and Biology

Audio transduction video
Cochlear animation*
Basilar membrane*
Basilar Membrane Video*
Basilar membrane picture*
Neuronal representation of pitch in primate auditory cortex (Bendor & Wang, 2005)
Psychoacoustics (1.6 MB, pdf)
Cortical topography of tonal structures underlying Western music (Janata et al., 2002)
What the frog’s eye tells the frog’s brain (Lettvin, Maturana, McCulloch, & Pitts, 1968)**
Eyeball diagram**
Rod/Cone density**
The eye and seeing
Brain mechanisms of vision (Hubel & Wiesel, 1979)**
Homunculus Diagram**


Gestalt Powerpoint**
Gestalt Psychology in Visual Perception
Gestalt Theory of Visual Perception
Design Principles of Gestalt
Gestalt Principles Powerpoint
Auditory streaming (Bregman)**
Optical illusions (including apparent motion)**

Temporality in Humans and Other Animals

Book chapter on timing (includes peak procedure) ***
Temporal dynamics of chewing (Gerstner & Cianfarani, 1998) ***
Evidence of a time constant associated with movement patterns in six mammalian species (Gerstner & Goldberg, 1994) ***
Evidence toward a delay-of-reinforcement gradient (Perin) ***
Moving in the beat of seconds (Feldhütter, Schleidt, & Eibl-Eibesfeldt, 1990) ***
Energy expense in gait produces a time scale (includes Rose-Gamble law)
Temporal structure of urban soundscapes (Botteldooren, De Coensel, & De Muer, 2006) ***
Contraction of time in ADHD (Gilden & Marusich, 2009) ***
Temporal beginnings and endings (Gilden & Paine, 2013)
Allometry of the present moment [height-rhythm relationship experiment] (Gilden & Mezaraups, forthcoming)
Temporal Integration of Sensorimotor Sychronization (Mates, Radil, Muller, & Poppel, 1994)
Not A Clock (Staddon, 2005)
Kleiber’s Law ***
Metrical Categories in Infancy and Adulthood (Hannon & Trehub, 2005)

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Rat (Radiolab podcast)**
Hermann Ebbinghaus’ memory experiment**
Working memory: The multiple component model (Baddeley & Logie)**
A serial position effect in recall of United States presidents (Roediger & Crowder, 1976)**
What is working memory and what is it good for?** 
Short-term retention of individual verbal items (Peterson & Peterson, 1959)
Word length and the structure of short term memory (Baddeley, Thomson, & Buchanan, 1975)**
The Word-length Effect and Disyllabic Words (Lovatt, Avons, & Masterson, 2000)
The Door Study **
Change Blindness Demo**
Better Change Blindness Demos**

Complex Systems

White, brown, and fractal music (Gardner, 1914) ***
How Long is the Coast of Britain? ***
Preferences for fractal music (Beauvois, 2007)
Self-organized criticality (lecture slides) ***
1/f noise in human cognition (Gilden, Thornton, & Mallon, 1995) ***
Cognitive emissions of 1/f noise (Gilden, 2001) ***


Anatomically distinct dopamine release during anticipation and experience of peak emotion to music (Salimpoor, Benovoy, Larcher, Dagher, & Zatorre, 2011)
The emotional source of “chills” induced by music (Panksepp, 1995)
Dopamine responses to salient non-reward events (Horvitz, 2000) ***
Music and it’s neural substrates (Zatorre & Salimpoor, 2013)
Music correlates with reward and emotion centers (Blood & Zatorre, 2001)

Music and Emotion

Huron chapter 1: Expectation (1.2 MB, pdf)
Huron chapter 2: Surprise (1.4 MB, pdf)

Music and Language

Structure of human speech predicts musical universals (Schwartz, Howe, & Purves, 2003)
Empirical comparison of rhythm in language and music (Patel & Daniele, 2003)

When we find interesting things on the internet relevant to the course they will be listed here.


Gestalt psychology on wikipedia

The Physics of Sound

Standing wave rope demo
Tacoma Narrows Bridge

In the Ear

How to Read Sheet Music
Intro to reading music

Recursion, Chaos Theory, and Fractals

Logistic Map (on wikipedia)
How long is the coast of Britain?


Blog post: Music theory for nerds (archived)
Meyer & Schvaneveldt, 1971 (spreading activation)
Deliberate Practice (Google Presentation)