Music Cognition

A shortened version of this article will appear in the next Psychology in Action Newsletter.

One of the most fascinating and quickly growing subareas of psychology and the cognitive sciences is music cognition, the interdisciplinary study of how the brain processes and perceives music.  Music cognition is driven primarily by the perception of tempo and pitch, as well as the important concept of expectation. Continue reading


Synesthesia: When Ordinary Activities Trigger Extraordinary Sensations

Many of us have had the experience of unusual associations between our senses and our memories.  Perhaps a certain smell unexpectedly reminds you of a grandparent, or certain foods evoke memories of old friends.  Associations between memories and sensory experience are normal, but about 4% of the population experiences a condition called synesthesia in which normal sensory experiences – like reading, talking, or listening to music – cause them to experience additional unusual and unrelated sensations.  For example, people with lexical-gustatory synesthesia experience complex tastes when they hear certain words or letters.  One such subject says that the word “jail” tastes like cold hard bacon, and the sound of the letter “L” can taste like potatoes, fingernails, or Rice Krispies, depending on how it is pronounced (Simner, 2006).
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