Professor Ian Cross

Ian Cross

University position



Faculty of Music

Home page (personal home page)

Research Theme

Cognitive and Behavioural Neuroscience


I am now Emeritus Profesor of Music & Science. My research explores the biological and cultural bases for human musicality, in particular, the mechanisms the human capacity for affiliative communicative interaction in music and in speech. This involves theoretical and experimental research using conventional cognitive-scientific methods. I direct a project exploring how musical notation is used, involving the visual optimisation of notation design for fluent reading.

Research Focus







Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Behavioural analysis



Sarah Hawkins

Brian Moore

James Woodhouse

United Kingdom

Graham Welch Web:


Michelle Phillips Web:

Juan Pablo Robledo Web:

Martin Rohrmeier Web:

Associated News Items

    Key publications

    Robledo, JP, Hawkins, S, Cornejo, C, Cross, I, Party, D. & Hurtado, E (2021), “Musical improvisation enhances interpersonal coordination in subsequent conversation: Motor and speech evidence” PLOSONE 16(4), e0250166.

    Cross, I (2013), “"Does not compute"? Music as real-time communicative interaction” AI & Society 28(4), 415-430

    Hawkins S, Cross I, & Ogden, R (2013), “Communicative interaction in spontaneous music and speech” In M. Orwin M, Howes C & Kempson, R (Eds.), Language, music, and interaction. London: College Publications 285-329

    Rabinowitch, T-C, Cross, I, & Burnard, P (2013), “Long-term musical group interaction has a positive influence on empathy in children” Psychology of Music 41(4), 484-498

    Rohrmeier, M, Rebuschat, P & Cross, I (2011), “Incidental learning of melodic structure” Consciousness & Cognition 24 (2), 214-222

    Cross I (2009), “The evolutionary nature of musical meaning” Musicae Scientiae Special Issue: 179-200

    Hallam, S, Cross, I, & Thaut, M (Eds.) (2009), “ Oxford Handbook of Music Psychology” Oxford: OUP

    Cross I (2001), “Music, cognition, culture and evolution” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 930:28-42



    Cross, I. (2022), “Music, speech and affiliative communicative interaction: pitch and rhythm as interactive affordances” PsyArXiv

    Lillywhite, A., Nijhof, D., Glowinski, D., Giordano, B. L., Camurri, A., Cross, I., & Pollick, F. (2022), “A functional magnetic resonance imaging examination of audiovisual observation of a point-light string quartet using intersubject correlation and physical feature analysis.” Frontiers in Neuroscience 16

    MacIntyre, A. D., Lo, H. Y. J., Cross, I., & Scott, S. (2022), “Task-irrelevant auditory metre shapes visuomotor sequential learning.” Psychological Research


    Cao, E, Blinderman, CD & Cross, I (2021), “Reconsidering empathy: an interpersonal approach and participatory arts in the medical humanities.” 2021

    Carlson, E. & Cross, I. (2021), “Reopening the conversation between music psychology and music therapy: a survey of interdisciplinary attitudes. ” Music Perception 39(2): 181-201.

    Cross I (2021), “Music, attachment and uncertainty: music as communicative interaction. Commentary on Music as a coevolved system for social bonding (Savage, Loui, Tarr, Schachner, Glowacki, Mithen & Fitch); and Origins of music in credible signalling (Mehr, Krasnow, Bryant & Hagen).” Behavioral & Brain Sciences 44, e66

    in press

    Dunbar, RIM, Robledo JP, Tamarit, I, Cross, I & Smith, (in press), “Nonverbal Auditory Cues Allow Relationship Quality to be Inferred During Conversations” Journal of Nonverbal Behavior


    Harris, I & Cross, I (2021), “Investigating Everyday Musical Interaction During COVID-19: An Experimental Procedure for Collaborative Playlist Engagement.” Frontiers in Psychology 12(1006)

    Stewart L., McConnell B., Darboe B., Glover V., Huma H. B., Sanfilippo K. R. M., Cross I., Ceesay H., Ramchandani P. & Cornelius V. (2021), “Social Singing, Culture and Health: Interdisciplinary Insights from the CHIME project for Perinatal Mental Health. ” Health Promotion International

    Yu, CG, Blackwell, AF, & Cross, I (2021), “Perception of Rhythmic Agency for Conversational Labelling” Human Computer Interaction

    Zhang, X & Cross, I (2021), “Analysing relationships between tone and melody in Chaozhou Songs” Journal of New Music Research Doi: 10.1080/09298215.2021.1974490


    Cross I & Tolbert E (2020), “Epistemologies” In McAuley T, Levinson J & Nielsen N (Eds), The Oxford Handbook of Western Music and Philosophy. Oxford, Oxford University Press 265-282

    Sanfilippo, KRM, McConnell, B, Cornelius, V, Darboe, B, Huma, HB, Gaye, M, Ceesay, M, Ramchandani, P, Cross, I, Glover, V& Stewart, L (2020), “Community psychosocial music intervention (CHIME) to reduce antenatal common mental disorder symptoms in The Gambia: a feasibility trial” BMJ Open 10(11): e040287


    Stenberg, A, Cross, I (2019), “White spaces, music notation and the facilitation of sight-reading” Scientific Reports 9(1): 5299


    Rabinowitch, Tal-Chen Cross, Ian (2018), “Joint rhythmic tapping elicits distinct emotions depending on tap timing and prior musical training” Emotion


    Bravo, F., Cross, I., Hawkins, S., Gonzalez, N., Docampo, J., Bruno, C., & Stamatakis, E. (2017), “Neural Mechanisms underlying Valence Inferences to Sound: the Role of the right Angular Gyrus” Neuropsychologia 102, 144-162

    Bravo, F., Cross, I., Stamatakis, E. A., & Rohrmeier, M. (2017), “Sensory cortical response to uncertainty and low salience during recognition of affective cues in musical intervals.” PLOS ONE 12(4), e0175991

    Knight, S., Spiro, N., & Cross, I. (2017), “Look, listen and learn: Exploring effects of passive entrainment on social judgements of observed others” Psychology of Music 45(1), 99-115


    Woolhouse, M., Cross, I. & Horton, T. (2016), “Perception of non-adjacent tonic key relationships” PSychology of Music 44(4), 802-815

    Woolhouse, M., Tidhar, D., and Cross, I. (2016), “Effects on interpersonal memory of dancing in time with others” Frontiers in Psychology 7(167), 1-8


    Blake E, Cross I (2015), “The acoustic and auditory contexts of human behavior” Current Anthropology 56 (1), 81-103


    Cross I (2014), “Music and communication in music psychology” Psychology of Music 42(6), 809-819

    Rohrmeier MA, Cross I (2014), “Modelling unsupervised online-learning of artificial grammars: Linking implicit and statistical learning.” Conscious Cogn 27:155-67 Details


    Cross, I, Fitch, WT, Aboitiz, F, Iriki, A, Jarvis, ED, Lewis, J, Liebal, K, Merker, B, Stout, D & Trehub, SE (2013), “Culture and evolution ” In MA Arbib (Ed) Language, music and the brain 541-562

    Rohrmeier M, Cross I (2013), “Artificial grammar learning of melody is constrained by melodic inconsistency: Narmour's principles affect melodic learning.” PLoS One 8(7):e66174 Details


    Cross I (2012), “Cognitive science and the cultural nature of music.” Top Cogn Sci 4(4):668-77 Details

    Fritz C, Blackwell AF, Cross I, Woodhouse J, Moore BC (2012), “Exploring violin sound quality: investigating English timbre descriptors and correlating resynthesized acoustical modifications with perceptual properties.” J Acoust Soc Am 131(1):783-94 Details


    Cross I (2011), “The meanings of musical meanings: Comment on "Towards a neural basis of processing musical semantics" by Stefan Koelsch.” Phys Life Rev 8(2):116-9; discussion 125-8 Details


    Fritz C, Woodhouse J, Cheng FP, Cross I, Blackwell AF, Moore BC (2010), “Perceptual studies of violin body damping and vibrato.” J Acoust Soc Am 127(1):513-24 Details


    Cross I (2009), “Communicative development: neonate crying reflects patterns of native-language speech.” Curr Biol 19(23):R1078-9 Details


    Fritz C, Cross I, Moore BC, Woodhouse J (2007), “Perceptual thresholds for detecting modifications applied to the acoustical properties of a violin.” J Acoust Soc Am 122(6):3640-50 Details


    Cross I (2005), “Comments on music, ethology, and evolution.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 1060:3-5 Details


    Cross I (2003), “Music as a biocultural phenomenon.” Ann N Y Acad Sci 999:106-11 Details