Visit the Music Lab with your baby!
We are now recruiting babies age 2 to 12 months for science research about the world's music. In the study, babies listen to songs while we measure their heart rate, pupil dilation, gaze, motion, and more!
We are conveniently located on Harvard's Cambridge campus, with free parking, and you can take home a Music Lab onesie or other cool prizes as a thank-you gift.
Please note that we are not currently running in-person studies due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You can still sign up to participate in future studies with your baby — we'll contact you when our in-person studies are back in operation.
If you are reading this, you are probably doing so on a device that plays music. You are probably able to hear and understand that music. You probably can also produce music of your own, even if you've never had music lessons. You probably engage with music on a regular basis, regardless of your cultural background, location in the world, or socioeconomic status. You have probably been this way your whole life.
In the Music Lab, we're figuring out why the human mind is designed in such a way that all of the above is true. We do basic cognitive science experiments with many different populations and with people who live all over the world, including in small-scale societies. We also work on large corpus studies of ethnographies and field recordings from the Natural History of Song project, which we host.
The Music Lab is based in the School of Psychology at Harvard University. Soon, we will be moving to our new homes at the University of Auckland (in New Zealand) and Yale University (in New Haven, as a part of Haskins Labs).
On this site, you can learn more about us and about our work, read our papers, and participate in experiments online!
- Our cross-cultural research on infant-directed speech and song was covered on the front page of the New York Times, on the TODAY show, and in many other spots worldwide.
- We are moving! From July 2022, we will be based at Yale University as a part of Haskins Laboratories.
- Our paper "Infants relax in response to unfamiliar foreign lullabies" is out in Nature Human Behaviour - thank you to all the families that helped make this project possible!
- Our new Natural History of Song paper is out in Science!
Samuel MehrPrincipal Investigator (website)
Logan JamesAffiliated Postdoc
Lidya YurdumResearch Assistant
Ekanem EbinneResearch Assistant
Mila BertoloAffiliated Graduate Student
Cody MoserAffiliated Graduate Student
Jan SimsonAffiliated Graduate Student
Rachel YanAffiliated Graduate Student
Liam CrowleyAffiliated Graduate Student
Jingxuan LiuAffiliated Graduate Student
collaborators, past and present
- Quentin Atkinson
University of Auckland
- Amy Belfi
Missouri University of Science and Technology
- Aaron Benjamin
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
- Pramit Chaudhuri
University of Texas, Austin
- Charlie Chubb
- Joseph Dexter
- Joshua Fiechter
- Luke Glowacki
Pennsylvania State University
- Reyna Gordon
- Gina Grimshaw
Victoria University of Wellington
- David Haig
- Gregory Hickok
- Joshua Hartshorne
- Daniel Ketter
Missouri State University
- Dean Knox
- Max Krasnow
- Caitlyn Lee
- Christopher Lucas
Washington University in St. Louis
- Alia Martin
Victoria University of Wellington
- Solena Mednicoff
University of Nevada Las Vegas
- Daniel Müllensiefen
Goldsmiths, University of London
- Timothy O'Donnell
- Isabelle Peretz
Université de Montréal
- Steven Pinker
- Disa Sauter
University of Amsterdam
- Adena Schachner
University of California, San Diego
- Beau Sievers
- Manvir Singh
Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse
- Elizabeth Spelke
- Diana Tamir
- Sandra Trehub
University of Toronto, Mississauga
- Sebastian Waz
- Ellen Winner
We also work with many others on the Natural History of Song project: learn more at themusiclab.org/nhs.
Lab manager (2019-2021) and summer intern (2018), currently a PhD student in Neuroscience at the Sakata Lab at McGill University.
Lab manager (2018-2019), currently a PhD student in Psychology at the Human Diversity Lab at Princeton University.
Research Assistant (2018-2020), currently a PhD student in Communication at UCLA, with Dr. Greg Bryant.
Summer intern (2018), currently working in the North Kansas City public schools.
Language experience shapes music processing across 40 tonal, pitch-accented, and non-tonal languages
Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B
Across demographics and recent history, most parents sing to their infants and toddlers daily
Evolution and Human Behavior
Response to vocal music in Angelman syndrome contrasts with Prader-Willi syndrome
Sight-over-sound judgments of music performances are replicable effects with limited interpretability
The Music Lab is in the process of a transition away from Harvard University. We are recruiting graduate students at both MSc and PhD levels, to be based at the University of Auckland (New Zealand; apply here), and a postdoc, to be based at Yale University (New Haven, CT, USA but with remote work options possible; apply here). Candidates interested in PhD study in Psychology at Yale can also be based in our lab, if working jointly with another Psychology faculty member. If you are interested in joining us in any of these roles, please contact Dr Mehr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We do not currently have any open positions for research assistants and are not planning on hosting summer interns in 2022. From time to time we hire short-term RAs, who work remotely. If you are interested in such a position, or would like to apply to work with us for academic credit or work-study, please contact us at email@example.com. In general, we do not recruit volunteers, with the exception of students who are sponsored by their home institution to do an internship with us.
If you are a member of an underrepresented group in research, and interested in joining us, we can help you get funded with an NIH Diversity Supplement (details). Please get in touch with Dr. Mehr at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in applying.