Workshop: Comparative Biomusicology – Feb 25-26 2014, Cologne, Germany


next week on February 25-26 2014 a workshop on
Comparative Biomusicology
will take place at the Institute of Musicology, University of Cologne, Cologne/Germany.

For more information, please visit our website ( or send us email (rie.asano(at)

Please pass along to anyone you think would be interested in attending.

We are looking forward to seeing you!

Best regards,

Uwe Seifert & Rie Asano


Confirmed Discussants:

  • Cedric Boeckx (ICREA, Barcelona, Spain)
  • Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky (Neurolinguistics, Marburg, Germany)
  • W. Tecumseh Fitch (Cognitive Biology, Vienna, Austria)
  • Stefan Koelsch (Biological Psychology and Music Psychology, Berlin, Germany)
  • Matthias Schlesewsky (Department of English and Linguistics, Mainz, Germany)
  • Barbara Tillmann, via video conference (CRNL, Lyon, France)
  • Kai Vogeley (Department of Psychiatry, Cologne, Germany)

Further discussants are invited.
The list of confirmed discussants will be updated on this homepage.


Institute of Musicology
Raum 1.416 (Alter Seminarraum)
Universität zu Köln

Begin: Tuesday, February 25 2014 at 9:30 am

End: Wednesday, February 26 2014 in the late afternoon

Organizer: Rie Asano & Uwe Seifert


It would help us if you could send a short e-mail if you are interested in visiting our workshop: rie.asano(at)

Short description of the workshop:

Cedric Boeckx initiated a new research program in biolinguistics called “comparative biolinguistics” (see his “Exploratory Workshop on Comparative Biolinguistics” and e.g. Benítez-Burraco & Boeckx, 2013).

On February 25-26, 2014, we are planning a workshop for two days to explore how that program might be adapted to music research (which, then, might be called “comparative biomusicology”).

The main aims of the workshop are to discuss:

1) The role and relation of theory and empirical research in such a comparative research program.

2) How results from comparative language-music research might be related. Comparative research includes within-species comparisons such as (developmental) disorders, different cognitive systems (e.g. language, music, and motor cognition) and cultural variations as well as between-species comparisons (e.g. birds, mammalians, non-human primates, and humans).

3) The role and relation of proximate and ultimate analysis in investigating the  cognitive systems language and music.

In general, we are interested to discuss from the point of view of linguistics (Cedric Boeckx), cognitive musicology (Uwe Seifert & Rie Asano), cognitive biology (W. Tecumseh Fitch), cognitive neuroscience and social cognition (Kai Vogeley), Cognitive Neuroscience and language (Matthias Schlesewsky & Ina Bornkessel-Schlesewsky) and cognitive neurocscience and psychology (Barbara Tillmann – via video conference) how, then, both programs might enhance each other and which strategies might be shared theoretically and empirically.

Call for papers: EvoMus Workshop in Vienna, Austria


Call deadline: October 23, 2013 (23:59 CET)

We welcome contributions (15-20 minutes including questions) describing original research on the evolutionary origins of music (see workshop description below for details). Experimental and empirical contributions are particularly encouraged. Short abstracts (.doc files following the standard Evolang format) of max. 1 page (including references) should be sent to with “Evolang Workshop Submission” as subject. Confirmation of submission will be given.

Submission deadline: October, 23rd 2013 (23:59 CET)
Notification of acceptance: November, 17th 2013

The purpose of this workshop is to (i) provide a common platform for researchers from a range of fields (syntax, phonology, typology, biomusicology, ethnomusicology, neuroscience, etc) to compare results and methodologies, (ii) discuss and integrate findings from different disciplines within the evolutionary and cognitive frameworks, (iii) develop critical hypotheses whose empirical testing can shed light on issues at the frontier between the evolution of language and music.
EvoMus: The evolution of music and language in a comparative perspective
This workshop will hence compare recent findings on language and music along three lines of inquiry: evolutionary, cognitive and methodological.

  1. The evolutionary approach: What is the relationship between the origins of language and music? Can findings in one discipline inform the other? Which experiments are crucial to reject or accept hypotheses of common origins? Are the common origin (a musilanguage split into language and music) and branching (music originated by scission from language or vice-versa) hypotheses tenable at all?
  2. The cognitive approach: To what extent do language and music processing overlap in the brain and mind? How can experimental studies inform us about shared neural resources? In particular, do structural similarities in language and music map to shared processing mechanisms?
  3. The methodological approach: Current research on language evolution makes, among others, broad use of agent-based modeling, iterated learning experiments and comparative research in non-human animals. How are similar techniques used to investigate the evolution of music? What kind of models and computer simulations could be “imported” from language to music research (and vice versa) successfully and meaningfully?

For further description, see the workshop description!

Andrea Ravignani
Department of Cognitive Biology, University of Vienna
Althanstrasse 14. 1090 Vienna, Austria

Call for papers: EvoLang 10 in Vienna, Austria


Call deadline: September 13, 2013

The 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language will be held on 14th-17th April 2014 in Vienna at the Department of English of Vienna University.

The 10th International Conference on the Evolution of Language (Vienna, April 14th-17th, 2014) invites substantive contributions relating to the evolution of human language. Submissions may be in any relevant discipline, including, but not limited to, anthropology, archeology, artificial life, biology, cognitive science, genetics, linguistics, modeling, paleontology, physiology, primatology, and psychology. Normal standards of academic excellence apply.

Submitted papers should aim to make clear their own substantive claim, relating this to relevant scientific literature, and briefly setting out the method by which the claim is substantiated, the nature of the relevant data, and/or the core of the theoretical argument concerned. Submissions may be theory-based, but empirical studies should not rest on preliminary results.

Submissions can be made (by Sept. 13th, 2013) both for podium presentations (20 minutes plus 10 minutes for discussion) and for poster presentations. They are limited to one first-authored podium presentation and one first-authored poster per person. There is no limit on second authored submissions. – When submitting, please indicate whether your submission is to be considered for inclusion as a talk, as a poster, or as either of the two.

For both podium and poster presentations, there are two possible types of submission: (a) Full papers, which can have a length of between 6 and 8 pages, and (b) Abstracts, which can be up to 2 pages long.

All accepted submissions will be published in a bound proceedings volume to appear before the start of the conference.

For detailed instructions on how to submit a paper or poster go to the submission section.

For further information, please visit the official homepage:

Feedback on the 19th International Congress of Linguists (ICL19) in Geneva

The International Congress of Linguists took place in Geneva from 21-27. July!

Because this conference was very big one, I can only tell you about things which I was interested in – I hope some aspects are also interesting for you!

One big event: Chomsky’s talk
Noam Chomsky was invited to give a talk.
You can watch a video here:
He also attended to the Origin of Language and Human Cognition session briefly – it was really funny to be with him in an auditorium. 😉

Plenary talk: Tecumseh Fitch
If you know his book “The Evolution of Language” (2010), the most part of his talk was involved in this book. At first, he emphasized the difference between homology (descended from common ancestor) and convergence/analogy (separate, parallel evolution) and talked about the evolution of the flexible vocal tract to produce speech in terms of homology. Further, he talked a little about the vocal learning which should have evolved in terms of convergent evolution. The second part and the main point of his talk was about syntax as related to complex pattern perception investigated within the artificial grammar learning paradigm (AGL) and concluded that almost all animals can’t process the context-free grammars (CFG). Here, he show visual pattern recognition task as promising because one can avoid working memory question involved strongly in tasks with auditory stimuli. Here, we can see his current working hypothesis regarding complex pattern recognition as domain-general. Interesting point was the claim that we should investigate ‘animal phonology’ instead of ‘animal syntax’. In the last part of his talk, he implied the origin of hierarchical processing in primate social cognition and the exaptation of this in the course of language evolution.
This last part was actually the most interesting one though he took little time for that. The origin of hierarchical processing in primate social cognition is maybe his current interest. That’s why he emphasizes in his musical papers the social aspects of music. This is really funny because Jackendoff (2011) also mentioned about the possible origin of the hierarchical structure in primate social structure recognition. Fitch didn’t mention anything about the possible origin of hierarchical processing in action as claimed by other authors. Anyway, it was a very interesting and funny talk. 😉

Session 2: Origin of language and human cognition
This session was highly interdisciplinary – there were presentations from biology, computer science, theoretical linguistics to musicology (of course, musicology was added by me!). 😉
The first interesting point was claimed by Andrea RAVIGNANI (biology) talking about an experiment with squirrel monkeys. He tested the monkey’s sensitivity to the ‘dependency’ structure defined different from linguistic ‘dependency’ with stimuli fitting to their perceptual systems (frequency between 1 kHz and 11 kHz): they were able to recognize the pattern of the strings generated by the rules abna.
How this kind of ‘dependency’ would relate to the linguistic ‘dependency’ was not clear, but for future research, one could test monkeys with similar stimuli to several variations of complexity. It would be interesting to test, whether they can recognize rhythmic patterning like long-shortn-long.
The second interesting talk was given by Jeffrey WATUMULL (computer science) about the functional architecture of language in terms of Turing machine. He claimed that merge/minimal search as a sole operation of the Turing machine and the look-up table contains patterns of E-languages. On the tape, the Turing machine writes representations like {x,y}, {x, {x,y}}, … which are interpreted by interface systems.
I asked him what he thinks about the relationship between language and music in terms of his functional architecture – he basically agrees with Ian Roberts and Katz & Pesetsky, claiming that interface systems are different.
Further, many interesting talks were following. Especially three of them were relating to each other and gave a new perspective in the language evolution research. Cedric BOECKX had a strong idea of ‘syntactic protolanguage’ in which he was arguing for the ‘syntax first’ type of language evolution. The main point was “lexicon depends on syntax”, that is, without syntax, no lexicon. He suggested to pay attention to the gap between anatomical and behavioral modern humans. Here, he claimed merge as a ‘precursor of modern fully developed grammar’.
The similar claim was made by Koji FUJITA. He also regarded merge as the most important thing to investigate the evolution of language. One very progressive claim was gesture as the origin of syntax and tool use as the precursor of merge. Here, he suggested the transition from action merge over domain-general merge to linguistic merge in the evolution of human cognition. His understanding of the evolution of interface systems was also very different from the classic notion of merge + interfaces = language.
After these two presentations, I talked about what the comparative approach on language and music would tell us about the evolution of cognitive systems and their ‘humaniqueness’. I think, my talk added to the former talks another perspective from music research. My claim on uniquely human domain-general core computation processing complex hierarchical structure which is shared in language, music and action was fitting to the in-between step of domain-general merge claimed by Fujita from which the other cognitive systems evolved in the course of evolution. So, if it’s true, language and music share domain-general merge as their origin, but differ in the evolution of interface systems and the domain-specific merge. Maybe, language and music share some origins in terms of S-M interface system, but they are completely different in terms of C-I interface systems. I have still problem with the term “syntax” if this sort of considering the evolution of language is regarded as ‘syntax first’, but we can say “Your theory of language evolution depends on your theory of language” (Jackendoff, 2010), “Your theory of the evolution of syntax depends on your theory of syntax”. Let’s see, how the future research is going on. 😉

Workshop 109: Innovations in the study of language acquisition and language impairment
The first interesting notion was made by Chiara CANTIANI. She tested children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI) and Developmental Dyslixia (DD) and found the delay in P600 and the existence of N400-like component in DD by grammaticality judgment task. She concluded that this N400-like component in DD shows a different strategy for morpho-syntactic processing in DD. To note that her interpretation of ERP components were based on Friederici (2002).
The second interesting talk was given by Heather VAN DER LELY. She emphasized the importance of the connection between cortical (BA 44 and BA 45) and subcortical area (Basal ganglia, especially striatum) in the processing of complex syntax (clausal level hierarchy).
This workshop was very nice to get an overview over the current state of art in the empirical approaches relating the theme. For example, what I really learned was that the name of the impairment tells us very little about the nature of diseases: some subjects with Dyslexia have difficulties in phonology, some in morpho-syntax, and the others both. Some subjects have both SLI and DD or only one of them – they have different problems.

Session 7: Psycholinguistics
One interesting talk was given by Hélène DELAGE about the relation between working memory and complex syntax in SLI. She suggested the syntactic complexity defined by the embedding and the  depth of embedding and claimed that working memory limitation in SLI relates to the limitation in processing complexity in syntax. The methodologically, she differentiated two tasks, simple-span task and complex-span task, in terms of the working memory model of Baddeley (1986) and the findings in Barrouillet & Camos (2001, 2007) and assumed that “1) the phonological loop using three ‘simple span’ tasks (forward digit span, repetition of words and non-words) and 2) verbal working memory (associating the phonological loop and the central administrator) using three ‘complex span’ tasks (backward digit span, counting span and running span)”.
Actually, I didn’t understand why the counting task relates to the complex-span task because I’m not familiar with that… If someone can tell me why, I would be very happy. Otherwise, I will also read the papers… 😉
Another interesting talk was given by Ulrich FRAUENFELDER about the modularity and domain-specificity in language and cognition. He emphasized domain-specificity as more important than the encapsulation and claimed that one should investigate the relationship between the faculty of language and other faculties (i.e. music) or other cognitive components (i.e. working memory).
Although this work was very interesting and will give a nice framework for the future research, I had feeling that he wanted to see shared aspects of language and music on the low, perceptual level, and not on the high, cognitive level because he placed the domain-specificity in ‘knowledge modules’ and shared sensory processing in ‘processing modules’. Actually, I couldn’t understand how special ‘knowledge modules’ can be processed by shared ‘processing modules’. I think, concerning this point, further investigation is needed.
I also heard a funny experiment about learning sign language in social context (in a class room) vs. with DVD and the activation of Broca’s area – the former showed the significant activation in the Broca’s area in exposed later to the sign languages, but the latter not. Actually, I don’t know whether this is really true, but it was really funny. 🙂

So, this is a ‘short summary’ of my experience of the conference!!!
If you have some comments, I would be very happy. 🙂
The conference was very nice, but it was really hot in Geneva!

SMPC 2013


Title: SMPC 2013
Location: Toronto, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-08-08
End Date: 2013-08-11

The biennial meeting of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition will be held August 8-11, 2013 at Ryerson University in Toronto, Canada. Ryerson has the fastest rate of research growth in the Province of Ontario (as measured by external research funding), and it leads the country in research publication growth over the past decade.

Toronto is an exciting conference destination, offering a diverse range of attractions, excellent dining, and world-class entertainment. The city is also safe and pedestrian-friendly, consistently ranked among the world’s most liveable cities.


Dr. Carol L. Krumhansl, Cornell University
“Musical Tension: Statistics, Structure, and Style.” For more information on Dr. Krumhansl’s work please click here


To coincide with SMPC’s efforts to help bring music perception and cognition research to the general public in order to promote broad interest in the field, we are pleased to offer a public lecture  by Dr. Daniel Levitin (Author of: “This is Your Brain on Music”) on Sunday August 11, 2013. Admission is free, and open to the general public as well as SMPC delegates. We hope to see you there!


Conference Chair
Frank Russo (Psychology, Ryerson University)
Operations Coordinator
Tristan Loria (Psychology, Ryerson University)
Program Chair
Michael Schutz (McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind):

FotFS VIII: History and Philosophy of Infinity


Title: FotFS VIII: History and Philosophy of Infinity
Location: Cambridge, England
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-09-20
End Date: 2013-09-23

The concept of infinity has fascinated philosophers and mathematicians for many centuries: e.g., the distinction between the potential and actual infinite appears in Aristotle’s Physics (in his treatment of the paradoxes of Zeno) and the notion was implied in the attempts to sharpen the method of approximation (starting as early as Archimedes and running through the middle ages and into the nineteenth century). Modern mathematics opened the doors to the wealth of the realm of the infinities by means of the set-theoretic foundations of mathematics.

Any philosophical interaction with concepts of infinite must have at least two aspects: first, an inclusive examination of the various branches and applications, across the various periods; but second, it must proceed in the critical light of mathematical results, including results from meta-mathematics.

The conference History & Philosophy of Infinity will emphasize philosophical, empirical and historical approaches. In the following, we give brief descriptions of these approaches with a number of questions that we consider relevant for the conference:

  1. In the philosophical approach, we shall link questions about the concept of infinity to other parts of the philosophical discourse, such as ontology and epistemology and other important aspects of philosophy of mathematics. Which types of infinity exist? What does it mean to make such a statement? How do we reason about infinite entities? How do the mathematical developments shed light on the philosophical issues and how do the philosophical issues influence the mathematical developments?
  2. Various empirical sciences deal with the way we as finite human beings access mathematical objects or concepts. Research from mathematics education, sociology of mathematics and cognitive science is highly relevant here. How do we represent infinite objects by finite means? How are infinite objects represented in the human mind? How much is our interaction with infinite concepts formed by the research community? How do we teach the manipulation of infinite objects or processes?
  3. Infinity was an important concept in philosophy and theology from the ancient Greeks through the middle ages into the modern period. How did the concepts of infinity evolve? How did questions get sharpened and certain aspects got distinguished in the philosophical debate? Did important aspects get lost along the way?

Scientific Committee. Brendan Larvor (Hatfield, U.K.), Benedikt Löwe (chair; Amsterdam, The Netherlands & Hamburg, Germany), Peter Koellner (Cambridge MA, U.S.A.), Dirk Schlimm (Montréal, Canada).


SEMPRE Conference: Music and Empathy


Title: SEMPRE Conference: Music and Empathy
Location: Hull, UK
Link out: Click here
Date: 2013-11-09

This one-day SEMPRE conference hosted by the University of Hull will include invited presentations, a specialist workshop and selected submissions from researchers on the theme of music and empathy. In recent years there has been a growing interest in empathy in the fields of a variety of contexts, including education and development, emotion, expressiveness, and performance. This conference seeks to draw together current research from a range of areas, and to encourage and stimulate discussion on research in music and empathy.

Contact: :

Tracking the Creative Process in Music


Title: Tracking the Creative Process in Music
Location: Montreal, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-10-10
End Date: 2013-10-12

International Conference – 2nd edition

10-12 October 2013
Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique

Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal

Languages : French/English


This conference, whose first edition was organized by Nicolas Donin and Vincent Tiffon in Lille (France) in 2011, brings together researchers interested in artistic creativity and the study of processes of musical and sound creation of the past and present. Researchers working on this cluster of problems from a wide variety of specialities (history, music analysis, genetic criticism, psychology, cognitive sciences, sociology, ethnomusicology, anthropology, etc.) are invited to assess the different methodologies developed in last thirty years in their respective areas in an interdisciplinary perspective. Each approach contributes in its own way to the advancement of our understanding of the procedures, techniques, knowledge and know-how employed by musicians involved in creative projects.


Nicolas Donin
Michel Duchesneau
Jonathan Goldman
Catherine Guastavino
Caroline Traube


OICRM: Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique.

IRCAM: Institut de Recherche et de Coordination Acoustique/Musique (Paris), Analysis of Musical Practices Research team.

With the collaboration of the Faculty of Music, Université de Montréal, the CIRMMT (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Music Media and Technology) and the Schulich School of Music, McGill University.

The conference is under the patronage of ESCOM (European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music).


A dedicated conference website in online at:

Website of the previous Conference:

Progress in Motor Control IX


Title: Progress in Motor Control IX
Location: Montreal, Canada
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-07-13
End Date: 2013-07-16

Important Dates:

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: February 14, 2013
  • Early Registration Deadline:  May 1st, 2013


The three-day meeting brings together experts in diverse areas of Motor Control including the performing arts, such as dance, circus arts and music. There will be two scientific plenary sessions per day addressing the following areas:

  • Cortical and spinal mechanisms of motor control
  • Variability and redundancy in motor control
  • Equilibrium-point control and perception-action coupling
  • Motor control of speech and language
  • Motor control and recovery from injury
  • Motor control and the performing arts


Language Sciences in the 21st Century: The interdisciplinary challenge


Title: Language Sciences in the 21st Century: The interdisciplinary challenge
Location: Cambridge, UK
Link out: Click here
Start Date: 2013-10-03
End Date: 2013-10-04

Cambridge Language Sciences is hosting a major conference, Language Sciences in the 21st century: The interdisciplinary challenge, at West Road on 3-4 October 2013. The aim is to bring together an international group of researchers, whose work crosses traditional disciplinary boundaries, in order to explore key issues in language sciences. We hope the conference will be both a venue for the presentation of important new work and also a platform for Cambridge’s growing profile in this area.

The conference will include invited speakers, symposia, presented papers and posters. The four thematic strands will be:

Philosophy of language meets computational linguistics

Diversity and universals

Beyond our primate inheritance: Neurobiological and evolutionary approaches to language

Interdisciplinary perspectives on multilingualism

The first step in putting together the programme will be to gain an idea of the range of contributions which could come from Cambridge, how they may fit within the conference strands, and how they represent the emergence of broader approaches and themes. We are not, at present, inviting submitted papers. Expressions of interest based on cooperative or collaborative research are particularly welcome.

If you are a Cambridge researcher interested in the possibility of presenting your work at the conference, please contact Jane Walsh in the first instance by the end of January 2013 ( indicating which theme or themes you feel your research might relate to, providing a brief description of your work and also an indication of how it meets the “interdisciplinary challenge”.