What We're All About

The perception of sound plays an essential part in the lives of most individuals. Hearing conversation or enjoying music provide some obvious examples. Other examples are less obvious, such as, the effect of music in film, or the emotional meaning conveyed by intonation of the voice. Our laboratory research is aimed at understanding how humans recognize, remember, and interpret these meaningful sound; patterns.

There are three main branches of our research. The first has been ongoing interest for many years and focuses the mental representation of musical structure. This work has received  support from the Natural Sciences and Engineering research Council. The second branch is somewhat more recent and focuses on the role of music in audiovisual contexts, in particular, the role of music on the interpretation, memory, and appreciation of cinema, video and other multimedia. This work has been supported by Social Sciences and Humanities research Council. The third research area is the newest of all and focuses on singing.  It is a part of a very large international project called AIRS (Advancing Interdisciplinary Research in Singing) which is actually based at UPEI and is directed by Dr. Cohen. 

Our work is typically undertaken in the context of a broad lifespan developmental picture. We are interested in understanding how individuals acquire auditory and musical skills and how these skills change across the lifespan from childhood to senior years, be it memory for sequences, identification of emotion, or integration of musical and visual information, or learning to sing or compose a new melody. We are also interested in the therapeutic uses of music and in the health aspect of hearing and music.

Thus, the Auditory Perception and Music Cognition laboratory fosters research in a wide variety of areas that connect with human auditory perception: the representation of musical grammar and musical tonality, film interpretation and film memory, the development of singing, and comparisons between musical and language abilities. The talents of students, assistants, and technical staff serve important functions for the success of this laboratory and make the laboratory an exciting multidisciplinary environment in which to work toward uncovering new knowledge about auditory and music pattern recognition.


Since 2009, the primary work of the laboratory has been associated with  the AIRS project Advancing Interdisciplinary Research on Singing. This work connects to previous research in the laboratory that focused on the acquisition of musical grammar,  memory for tone sequences and the role of music in multimedia. Singing reflects the acqusition of musical grammar and  entails the memory for tone sequences.  Singing is not just an acoustical or auditory phenomenon; it involves other media, particularly vision and motor information. The prior knowledge acquired by the laboratory contributes to the ability to study singing, and the current studies of singing feed back knowledge about the original questions in which the laboratory had interest - how are tone sequences remembered, how is the grammar of music acquired, and how does the mind integrate information from music at the same time as it processes information from other media.  The Routledge Companion to Interdisciplinary Studies in Singing is a three-volume edited series representing the outcome of  the  AIRS project. The three volumes focus on Development, Education, and Well-being respectively and together include over 100 chapters.   The volume on Well-being has been submitted to the publisher. The volume on Education will be submitted at the end of June, with the final volume to follow in July.  The authorship is international but also includes the work from Psychology, Island Studies, Music, and Education Departments at UPEI, and 7 student co-autahors who worked in the Music Cognition Laboratory.