1989 …2024

Research activity per year

Personal profile


I'm a Distinguished Professor of the Department of Psychology, and Director of the Music, Sound and Performance Lab at Macquarie University. I completed my honours BSc from McGill University, and an MA and PhD from Queen's University, Canada. My PhD thesis concerned perceptual aspects of Bach Chorale music. After finishing my PhD, I worked in Stockholm at the Department of Speech, Music and Hearing, Royal Institute of Technology, then at the Conservatorium of Music Research Centre, Sydney. Prior to my appointment at Macquarie, I held academic positions at University of Queensland, York University (Canada), and Univesrity of Toronto. During my 18 years in Toronto, I held leadership positions as Head of the Psychology Dept (York), Director of Communication, Culture and Information Technology (U of Toronto), and Director of the Institute for Communication and Culture (U of Toronto). Throughout this time, I was also involved in composing and performing music for film, theatre, and radio. I moved to Macquarie University in 2007, and was Head of the Department of Psychology for four years, winning a Dean's award for my leadership role in this position. I was also a Chief Investigator in the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, and I founded the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise and Training, which remains a highly productive University Research Centre. I have also been Chief investigator on six ARC Discovery Projects, and various other individual and team grants. I enjoy strong industry and community links, and am a passionate supervisor of Honours, Masters, and PhD students, as well as many post-doctoral associates. 

Research interests

I am interested in how the mind works, using methods from cognitive psychology. I am especially interested in the cognitive, emotional, social and cultural implications of music. Music is profoundly important to people all around the world, and we are now starting to understand why. Together with other members of the Music Sound and Performance Lab, we are studying issues such as musical creativity, music and emotion, music and the imagination, musical disorders, and uses of music as treatment for neurological disorders such as dementia.

The Music Sound and Performance lab is highly productive, and we have published more than 120 articles and chapters on these topics. I also wrote a general book on the subject called "Music, Thought and Feeling: Understanding the Psychology of Music" (Oxford University Press, 2014) which summarises the most influential research in this area. 


I teach in the areas of perception, cognition, research methods, and music psychology. I developed and convened a unit entitled, "Psychology of Music (PSYU2250) which considers the role of music in society, what it means to us, and how we make sense of it. I also teach classes in the area of cognition, usually focusing on auditory cognition or language. I also taught introductory and intermediate statistics for over 14 years, and have also taught in areas of Advanced Cognition, Perception, and Introductory Psychology. I also wrote the most popular textbook in my field (Music, Thought and Feeling: Understanding the Psychology of Music, Oxford University Press), and was sole Editor for the only encyclopedia in the field (Music in the Social and Behavioral Sciences: An Encyclpedia, Sage, Volumes 1 and II). I was also the lead editor (with Kirk Olsen) for a pedagogical book in the field targted as high school level (The Science and Psychology of Music: From Beethoven at the Office to Beyoncé at the Gym, ABC-Clio, Greenwood, 2021). I have also given workshops on "teaching music cognition" at conferences in my field, and am a passionate supervisor of students and interns at all levels. Finally, in my leadership position at University of Toronto, I oversaw the development and approval of over 60 indivdiual units and five programs of study (in the Communication, Culture and Information Technology Programs).

Research student supervision

I supervise numerous students at honours, masters, and PhD levels. Prospective students should first determine whether they are eligible for the program, and then contact me to determine my capacity to accept another student into the Music Sound and Performance lab. 

Community engagement

Aside from my work with journals and international societies in my field, I also enjoy working with industry and community partners. As part of my research on music-based treatment for neurological impairment, I work with several age-care facilities in NSW. 

External positions

Visiting Fellow: Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, University of British Columbia

1 Sept 20191 Nov 2019

Green Fellow, University of British Columbia

1 Sept 2018 → …

Fellow: Institute for Advanced Studies, Durham University

1 Sept 201730 Nov 2017


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