Music Cognition: An Exploration of the Mental Processes Underlying Musical Behaviors.

dj on turntable photo


INSTRUCTOR: Ernesto Fernandez



Course Description

For many of us, music is a powerful companion through life in the best and worst of times, and in everything in between. Why is this? This course will seek to answer this question by exploring the mental processes underlying musical behaviors and how emotion, environment, cognitive capacity, personality, individual differences, and other factors influence how we perceive music. This understanding will bring new insight to music lovers who want to increase their knowledge of, and appreciation for, both music and the brain.

This course examines human development regarding how and when musical behaviors emerge and what methods improve musical practice. It takes a close look at how musicians’ brains process audio signals differently from non-musicians. It also explores arguments for and against the notion that music-making is an evolutionary adaptation in humans. Music Cognition then looks at emotion, memory, and personality, including the link between emotional responses and the acoustic cues in music signals, strategies the brain uses for memorizing thousands of songs, the role music plays in preserving memories, and the significant ties between personality traits and musical preferences.