Clinical and Music Neuroscience Laboratory

Research Overview

Our Laboratory investigates the brain mechanisms that underpin human hearing. We use a range of behavioural, cognitive, computational, and neurobiological techniques to explore the auditory system in healthy and clinical populations. In particular we use music to study how the brain learns complex auditory tasks and responds emotionally to information.

We apply this fundamental knowledge to develop new theories of music perception and cognition, and new approaches to music practice in education, communities, performance excellence and health. Some examples of research we are undertaking include:

  • Sound recognition mechanisms and their role in auditory perception
  • The perception of pitch and dissonance, including absolute pitch (AP)
  • Learning mechanisms and brain plasticity involved in music perception and performance associated with music training
  • The use of music to aid recovery after brain injury, and regulate mood and social behaviour
  • The development of new musical instruments and notational systems

We have also investigated auditory processing in a range of neurological conditions, such as autism spectrum disorders (ASD), epilepsy, schizophrenia, and Williams Syndrome. Our computational models of the auditory system have formed the basis of new patented algorithms for de-noising speech signals and for speech and sound recognition.

photo of staff from Music and Auditory Neuroscience Lab


Associate Professor Neil M McLachlan
Dr Margaret Osborne, Honorary (Fellow)
David Marco, PhD Student
Sarah Elizabeth Hall, MPsych/PhD Student
Dawn L Merrett, PhD Student
Krysta J Callander, PhD Student
Laura J Bird, PhD Student

Research Publications

  • McLachlan NM, Marco D, Light M, Wilson S. Consonance and pitch. J Exp Psych Gen 2013; doi: 10.1037/a0030830.
  • Wilson SJ, Lusher D, Martin CL, Rayner G,  McLachlan NM.  Intersecting factors lead to absolute pitch acquisition that is maintained in a "fixed do" environment. Music Perception 2012; 29: 285-296.
  • McLachlan NM, Adams R,  Burvill C. Tuning natural modes of vibration by prestress in the design of a harmonic gong. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2012; 131: 926-934.
  • McLachlan NM. A neurocognitive model of recognition and pitch segregation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 2011; 130: 2845-2854.
  • Wilson SJ, Abbott DF, Lusher D, Gentle EC, Jackson GD.  Finding your voice: A singing lesson from functional imaging. Human Brain Mapping 2011; 32: 2115-2130.
  • McLachlan NM, Greco LJ, Toner EC,  Wilson SJ.  Using spatial manipulation to examine interactions between visual and auditory encoding of pitch and time. Frontiers in Psychology 2010; 1: 233, doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2010.00233.
  • McLachlan NM, Wilson SJ.  The central role of recognition in auditory perception: A neurobiological model. Psychological Review 2010; 117: 175-196.
  • Martens M, Reutens DC, Wilson SJ. Auditory cortical volumes and musical ability in Williams syndrome. Neuropsychologia 2010; 48: 2602-2609.
  • Wilson SJ, Lusher D, Wan CY, Dudgeon P, Reutens DC. The neurocognitive components of pitch processing: Insights from absolute pitch. Cerebral Cortex 2009; 19: 724-732.
  • Wilson SJ, Parsons K, Reutens DC. Preserved singing in aphasia: A case study of the efficacy of Melodic Intonation Therapy. Music Perception 2006; 24: 23-36.

Research Projects

This Research Group doesn't currently have any projects

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Cognitive Psychology and Behavioural Neuroscience, Clinical Psychology and Clinical Neuropsychology

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact Professor Sarah Wilson

Department / Centre

Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences

Unit / Centre

Clinical and Music Neuroscience Laboratory