Music cognition and the cognitive sciences

Top Cogn Sci. 2012 Oct;4(4):468-84. doi: 10.1111/j.1756-8765.2012.01226.x.


Why should music be of interest to cognitive scientists, and what role does it play in human cognition? We review three factors that make music an important topic for cognitive scientific research. First, music is a universal human trait fulfilling crucial roles in everyday life. Second, music has an important part to play in ontogenetic development and human evolution. Third, appreciating and producing music simultaneously engage many complex perceptual, cognitive, and emotional processes, rendering music an ideal object for studying the mind. We propose an integrated status for music cognition in the Cognitive Sciences and conclude by reviewing challenges and big questions in the field and the way in which these reflect recent developments.

MeSH terms

  • Attention / physiology
  • Biological Evolution
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Science*
  • Emotions / physiology
  • Human Development / physiology
  • Humans
  • Memory / physiology
  • Mental Processes / physiology
  • Music* / psychology
  • Pitch Perception / physiology