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Research seminar by Petri Toiviainen: fMRI meets MIR. Studying neural correlates of music listening with a naturalistic paradigm

Research seminar by Petri Toiviainen: fMRI meets MIR. Studying neural correlates of music listening with a naturalistic paradigm

UPDATE: This seminar has been cancelled



fMRI meets MIR: studying neural correlates of music listening with a naturalistic paradigm by Petri Toiviainen, Finnish Centre for Interdisciplinary Music Research, University of Jyväskylä


The past two decades have witnessed a surge of neuroimaging studies that have attempted at identify brain structures involved in the perception of music-related perceptual features, such as pitch, sensory dissonance, rhythm, timbre, and key, typically in controlled conditions wherein the feature of interest has been presented in isolation and manipulated artificially. Such studies have inspected phenomena relatively distinct from the actual music listening situation where listeners continuously and subconsciously extract several musical features that are changing and integrate them into coherent percepts. 

To alleviate this shortcoming, our team has introduced and employed a naturalistic paradigm, wherein neural correlates of music processing are investigated using brain imaging data collected during continuous listening of music recordings and modelled using features computationally extracted from the presented music. I will give an overview of this work, including approaches of both encoding neural activation from music and decoding musical content and listener characteristics from neural activation.

I will also present our ongoing work in which we aim to switch from feature engineering to feature learning in order to model the neural correlates of implicit music learning and enculturation. To this end, we will employ unsupervised deep neural networks to learn style-specific musical features at a range of abstraction levels and compare the thus learned representations with neural representations to investigate how music is processed in the brain at different hierarchical levels and how this depends on previous musical exposure.


Petri Toiviainen received the degrees of MSc in theoretical physics in 1987 and  PhD in musicology in 1996, both at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland. Since 2002 he holds the position of Professor of Music at the University of Jyväskylä. He has been visiting professor at Cornell University and visiting fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University. During 2008-13, he was the head of the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research, located at the universities of Jyväskylä and Helsinki. In 2014-18 he held an Academy Professorship granted by the Academy of Finland. His research interests include music processing in the brain, music and movement, sound and music computing, and music visualization.  He is also a performing jazz pianist.