• 128 Citations
  • 7 h-Index
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Personal profile


My primary position at Macquarie University is an early career post-doctoral researcher. I am also Centre Manager: Research and Engagement of the Centre for Elite Performance, Expertise, and Training, and Research Manager of the Music, Sound, and Performance Research Group. I'm interested in a range of topics associated with auditory perception and cognition, with special emphasis on using music as a tool to understand how we experience our auditory world.

Research interests

My research broadly investigates the cognitive and sensory mechanisms that underpin the perception of complex and dynamic sounds (e.g., music and environmental sound). I have primarily published research on loudness and affective responses to music. More recent work investigates auditory attention and motion perception in the context of spatial hearing; the social, psychological, and neurological implications of violent music; and the neuroscience of creativity in the context of music performance.

Specific research interests include: Social, psychological, and neurological implications of violent music; Auditory looming, attention, and spatial localisation; The neuroscience of musical creativity; Real-time approaches to emotion and music; Modelling continuous loudness in response to musical dynamics; Psychoacoustic approaches to environmental sound research


I currently guest lecture in the units 'Music, Mind, and Message' and 'Perception' at Macquarie University.

Research student supervision

Doctoral Student Projects
  • Investigating potential positive and negative effects of violent music on its fans (2018-2021). PhD (Psychology), Associate Supervisor
  • A neuropsychological investigation of creativity in the context of musical improvisation (2017-2020). PhD (Psychology), Associate Supervisor
  • A systematic investigation of memory for melodies: How do musical features predict recognition performance? (2014-2017), PhD (Psychology), Associate Supervisor
Masters Student Projects
  • Passion and emotion in the production and consumption of violent music (2018), Master of Research, Primary Supervisor
  • Regulating anger through music: Relationship between genre, preference, and emotion regulation strategies (2017-2018), Master of Clinical Psychology, Associate Supervisor
  • An investigation of empathy among fans and non-fans of violent music (2017), Master of Research (Psychology), Associate Supervisor
  • Measuring creativity in an improvised jazz context: A preliminary tDCS study (2016), Master of Research (Psychology), Associate Supervisor
Undergraduate Honours Student Projects
  • Investigating the role of violent music in activating aggressive cognitions (2017), Honours (Psychology), Primary Supervisor
  • Effects of acoustic intensity on sound-source localisation of environmental warning signals (2015), Honours (Psychology), Primary Supervisor
  • The salience of acoustic intensity and spectral complexity in auditory spatial localisation (2014), Honours (Psychology), Primary Supervisor

Research engagement

Authored Media Pieces and Interviews

Research Featured in the Media

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics where Kirk Olsen is active. These topic labels come from the works of this person. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

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Projects 2017 2021

Research Outputs 2007 2019

  • 128 Citations
  • 7 h-Index
  • 27 Article
  • 2 Conference proceeding contribution
  • 1 Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary/reference book
  • 1 Comment/opinion

Who enjoys listening to violent music and why?

Thompson, W. F., Geeves, A. M. & Olsen, K. N., Jul 2019, In : Psychology of Popular Media Culture. 8, 3, p. 218-232 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

personality traits

Listener expertise enhances intelligibility of vocalisations in Death Metal music

Olsen, K. N., Thompson, W. F. & Giblin, I., Jun 2018, In : Music Perception. 35, 5, p. 527-539 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Open Access

Intensity dynamics and loudness change: A review of methods and perceptual processes

Olsen, K. N., 1 Dec 2014, In : Acoustics Australia. 42, 3, p. 159-165 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

response bias
auditory perception

A “looming bias” in spatial hearing? Effects of acoustic intensity and spectrum on categorical sound source localization

McCarthy, L. & Olsen, K. N., 1 Jan 2017, In : Attention, Perception and Psychophysics. 79, 1, p. 352-362 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Sound Localization
Architectural Accessibility

Resilient memory for melodies: the number of intervening melodies does not influence novel melody recognition

Herff, S., Olsen, K. & Dean, R., 1 May 2018, In : Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 71, 5, p. 1150– 1171 22 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

Recognition (Psychology)