Music Cognition Specialization

The Music Cognition specialization within the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University is unique among North American universities, providing students with a combined background in cognitive neuroscience and music. Such training prepares students for interdisciplinary research into the cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience of music, as well as applied careers in audiology and music therapy. Students can pursue the specialization in either an Honours B.A., Honours B. Mus. or and Honours B.Sc degree.

Coursework builds both a strong foundation in musicology (including music history, harmony, and music analysis) and an equally strong foundation in psychology (including memory, cognition, sensation and perception). The Music Cognition Specialization prepares students for a wide variety of professional careers integrating music cognition, cognitive psychology, and the science of performance.

Students are encouraged to take advantage of the multi-faceted intersection of music and psychology through McMaster’s dynamic research opportunities. Music and psychology research in the academic and clinical contexts are being conducted to explore:

  1. (1) Music Neuroscience – how the auditory system and brain are activated and the electrical patterns of neural activity during performance,
  2. (2) Music Perception – the perceptual and motor processes involved with music.
  3. (3) Music Cognition – the mental actions or processes involved with music,
  4. (4) Human Development – examining the dynamic interplay of society and musical expression,
  5. (5) Evolution – exploring music in the scope of animal and human development,
  6. (6) Cross-Cultural Music – the relationship between the performance of music and its intellectual discourse,

The Music Cognition Specialization is home to both nationally and internationally recognized faculty, including the LIVELab - state-of-the-art unique 106-seat research performance hall and the internationally renowned McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind (MIMM). Students are encouraged to attend activities organized by MIMM, which offers weekly lectures, journal clubs, joint lectures and concerts.

There are two ways students can engage in this specialization: (1) through an Honours Bachelor of Arts or Honours Bachelor of Science in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour (PNB) or (2) as an Honours Bachelor of Music through the McMaster School of the Arts (SOTA). Please see these respective departments for admission information for both High School students or Level 1 McMaster students.

Contact Information

For inquiries into the Music Cognition specialization in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour (PNB), please contact Dr. Steven Brown.

For inquiries into the Music Cognition specialization in the School of the Arts (SOTA), please contact Dr. Andrew Mitchell.

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McMaster University - Faculty of Science | PNB