Cross-modal perception of music

Listening to music is far from a solely auditory activity. Rather, sonic characteristics are habitually understood in terms of phenomena in diverse sense modalities and conceptual domains. Motor, emotion, and visual areas of the brain are activated in response to music, and evidence is growing that these associations are involved in music perception, whether in perception of dance music, perception of motion and emotion in performance, or in subconscious mapping between auditory and visual modalities.

British Academy International Partnership and Mobility Scheme

The British Academy has given support for three years to establish a network between Tel Aviv University, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the University of Sheffield. The network will be used to build an infrastructure facilitating the investigation of cross-modal influences on music perception. The network will consolidate expertise, explore new research trajectories, train postgraduate students in the UK and Israel, and create opportunities for the appointment of postdoctoral research associates.


Dr Renee Timmers (P.I.), University of Sheffield

Prof Zohar Eitan (Co-P.I.), Tel Aviv University

Dr Roni Granot, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Prof Nicola Dibben, University of Sheffield

Starting date of Network: 1st October 2012.

Research and publications

Cross-domain mappings for auditory pitch in a musical context

How do Western participants apply Western and non-Western metaphors to "high" and "low" pitches? Are these mappings similarly applied in an abstract conceptual task and when listening to actual music. How do mappings of spatial height relate to these pitch mappings? And how do mappings of "high" and "low" pitch associate with other dimensions, in particular quantity, size, intensity and valence?

Eitan & Timmers (2010). BeethovenĀ“s last piano sonata and those who follow Crocodiles: Cross-domain mappings of auditory pitch in a musical context. Cognition 114, 405-422.

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