Music Mind Machine

Music Mind Machine in Sheffield combines musicology, psychology and computer science to investigate music cognition and behaviour. It aims to form a bridge between these disciplines in terms of methodology and by bringing people together.

Two students presenting as part of a Music Mind Machine event


Our research investigates the perception and expression of emotion in music, comparing it for example to the perception of emotion in language. Performing music expressively is a second major research theme, including expressive performance in musical ensembles. Our third strand of research investigates how different modalities such as vision, audition and movement interact in musical experience and performance.

Perception of emotion in music

  • Perception of emotion in music and language in cochlear implant users (Tim Metcalfe, WRoCAH PhD project)
  • Perception of consonant and dissonant musical chords (Yuko Arthurs, PhD project)
  • Interactions between emotion and cognition in music perception (Renee Timmers, British Academy Small Research Grant)

Expressive performance of music

Multimodal perception of music

  • Synesthesia and musical memory (Caroline Curwen, PhD project)
  • Cross-modal perception of music (Renee Timmers, Zohar Eitan, British Academy International Network)
  • Embodied and enactive music cognition (Andrea Schiavio, PhD project)
  • Modelling sensori-motor learning (Giacomo Spigler, BioHybrid PhD project) 
  • The role of cross-modal information in inter-performer communication (Renee Timmers, Leverhulme International Academic Fellow)

Music in everyday life

  • Space and embodiment in headphone listening (Jacob Downs, PhD project)
  • Musical imagery as unconditioned response of music listening (Ioanna Filippidi, PhD project)
  • Music and gambling (Stephanie Bramley, PhD project)
  • Music's role in shaping sociability: the case of young people and marginalised youth (Kate Wareham, PhD project)

Events and opportunities

There are different ways in which you could get involved in the research centre. Some possibilities are listed below:

Ways to be involved

  • Volunteer to participate in research
  • Participate in the biweekly reading group
  • Present and/or attend research events
  • Pay a visit or do a brief research internship
  • Initiate a collaboration
  • Apply to study

People and partners

The centre is directed by Dr. Renee Timmers and Prof. Nicola Dibben. We closely collaborate with partners in Computer Science and Engineering, Psychology and Medicine.


Facilities include two dedicated lab-spaces for music psychological experiments, and a high specification sound studio. Equipment available to students and researchers include equipment to measure hand-movements, physiological and neurophysiological responses, reaction times, muscle tension (EMG), as well as digital performance instruments, video and audio recording equipment.

Events at the University

Browse upcoming public lectures, exhibitions, family events, concerts, shows and festivals across the University.