The Music Cognition Group (MCG) is part of the Department of Musicology, the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), and Amsterdam Brain and Cognition (ABC) Center of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) and is housed at LAB42, Science Park Amsterdam.
Our research offers interdisciplinary perspectives on the capacity to perceive, make, and appreciate music. It asks what music is for and why every human culture has it, whether musicality is a uniquely human capacity, and what biological and cognitive mechanisms underlie it.
The current research program aims to identify the basic neurocognitive mechanisms that constitute the cognitive and biological basis of musicality, as well as developing theoretical, computational and empirical methods for analyzing various musicality phenotypes.Meet our researchersResearch agenda
We are all born with a predisposition for music, a predisposition that develops spontaneously and is refined by listening to music. Nearly everyone possesses the musical skills essential to experiencing and appreciating music. Think of “relative pitch,”recognizing a melody separately from the exact pitch or tempo at which it is sung, and “beat perception,”hearing regularity in a varying rhythm. Even human newborns turn out to be sensitive to intonation or melody, rhythm, and the dynamics of the noise in their surroundings. Everything suggests that human biology is already primed for music at birth with respect to both the perception and enjoyment of listening.
Human musicality is clearly special. Musicality being a set of natural, spontaneously developing traits based on, or constrained by, our cognitive abilities (attention, memory, expectation) and our biological predisposition. But what makes it special? Is it because we appear to be the only animals with such a vast musical repertoire? Is our musical predisposition unique, like our linguistic ability? Or is musicality something with a long evolutionary history that we share with other animals? (from: Honing, 2019).
We are seeking to broaden our profile with respect to AI-assisted music generation and how AI-generated art can be positioned within the humanities and cognitive science more generally. The ideal candidate will be somebody comfortable engaging in the ethics and implications of using AI in artistic processes regardless of medium, with more specific expertise in how AI is (and can be) used to make music. Deadline for applications: 12 January 2023.
You are invited to participate in a scientific experiment that compares the auditory perceptions of humans & songbirds (zebra finches). You will be asked to complete an acoustic task that takes ca. 10 minutes. Can you do as well, or even better than a songbird?
Language and music are universal human traits, raising the question for their evolutionary origin. In a recent review, co-authored with Carel ten Cate (LU), we take a comparative perspective to address that question.
In this episode of Big Biology, entitled Beasty Beats: The Origins of Musicality, Art Woods and Marty Martin talk with Henkjan Honing about the biology of musicality.
Latest posts from Henkjan Honing’s blog Music Matters