Fiona publishes new paper in Experimental Brain Research


Dr. Fiona Manning’s (PhD ’16) latest findings are now in press at Experimental Brain Research.  The study examined rhythm perception in percussionists and non-percussionists when finger tapping to a musical beat.  Although we previously found percussionists significantly outperform non-percussionists when using a drumstick, here percussionist performance was only slightly better.  More importantly, both groups performed better when tapping with sticks than fingers – regardless of musical training.  This surprising finding raises interesting questions about past timing studies – which generally use finger tapping alone.  Our data came from our lab road trips to PASIC, funded by Dr. Schutz’s Petro Canada Young Investigator Award, and builds on our novel discovery that “moving to the beat” improves rhythm perception.  

Click here for a preprint of this paper, or click here for more information on our previous work

  Fiona Portrait


Fiona Manning becomes first PhD Graduate of the MAPLE Lab


Congratulations to Fiona Manning, who officially became our first PhD at the Fall Convocation Ceremony on Friday at Hamilton Place.  Her dissertation explored the intersection between movement and timing.  Her first paper (published in Psychonomic Bulletin & Review) showed that participants performed better in timing perception when they moved to the beat versus when they did not move to the beat. In her subsequent paper (published in Timing & Time Perception), participants who moved to the beat performed better when provided with auditory feedback. Her third paper (published last summer  in Psychological Research) showed that percussionists had superior timing perception than non-percussionists when moving along to the beat but, interestingly, there was no difference in performance between the groups when asked to simply listen to the beat.   She currently has manuscripts from this dissertation under review, as well as other potential publications from this fruitful line of research.

Fiona is currently working as a postdoc at Concordia University with Virginia Penhune, further exploring the role of movement in auditory perception.  Congrats Dr. Manning – we look forward to your future success! 

MAPLE Lab Presentations at ICMPC

San Francisco, CA

Several MAPLE Lab members flew to San Francisco for the 14th International Conference for Music Perception & Cognition. Notably, these lab members presented a talk or a poster (or both) on topics ranging from rhythm perception and movement to music performance choices to emotion in music.

The conference was held from July 5-9 and featured numerous talks and poster presentations on all things music cognition related: Click here for more information about the conference.

  • Fiona Manning had a talk at Music Performance 1 (Tuesday, 2:00 pm).
  • Dr. Michael Schutz had a talk at Rhythm, Meter & Timing 2 (Wednesday, 3:45pm).
  • Aimee Battcock had a talk at Music & Emotions 1 (Tuesday, 11:00am).
  • Anna Siminoski presented a poster at Rhythm, Meter & Timing 3 (Thursday, 4:00pm)

Fiona Portrait

Fiona Manning

Aimee Battcock

Aimee Battcock

Anna Siminoski

Anna Siminoski


Raven Hebert-Lee

Fiona Manning Publishes new findings in Psychological Research


Although percussionists’ rhythmic expertise is widely recognized, Fiona Manning’s recent article in Psychological Research suggests this expertise may be predicated upon movement. She tested percussionists and non-percussionists’ rhythm perception in two conditions: with or without movement. Although percussionists outperformed controls when moving, their rhythm perception was no better when listening alone.  This raises interesting questions about interactions between musical expertise, movement, and rhythm.  Click here to view the article on Springer’s site.



Lorraine Chuen Publishes Her MSc Thesis In Attention, Perception & Psychophysics

How does the perceptual system identify which sights and sounds should be integrated?  Although traditional explanations focus primarily on coincidence in space and time, evidence is now emerging for the role of context/congruency.  Yet previous research suggests this role is confined to speech  (Vatakis & Spence, 2008).lorrainechuen_pic

Lorraine Chuen provided novel evidence that this process is also invoked when hearing musical sounds using videos pairing cello and marimba notes with either matched (i.e., cello/cello) or mismatched (i.e., cello/marimba) gestures. By documenting the importance of amplitude envelope in evoking the “unity assumption” in non-speech sounds, she provided an intriguing expansion of the lab’s contributions to our understanding of this important acoustic property.  This is now available from our publications page.

Kyle Gauder awarded NSERC USRA for knowledge mobilization initiative

kyle gauder portraitThe lab’s interdisciplinary projects hold practical implications for diverse audiences.  Whether you are a Bach buff, percussion pundit, or cognition connoisseur, the work being done by our students can help inform your work. 

Kyle Gauder received a 2016 NSERC-USRA (University Student Research Award) for a project aimed at creating online tools for knowledge translation. As the lab’s previous technical assistant, he will draw upon his background in both psychology and computing to develop new tools for communicating important lab findings.  One project offers a dynamic, interactive visualization tool offering insight into JS Bach’s landmark composition Well Tempered Clavier (Book 1), debuted at the International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in San Francisco.  Bach’s composition containing 24 Preludes and 24 Fugues in all major and minor keys inspired similarly structured works by Frédéric Chopin (Op 28), Alexander Scriabin (Op 11), Dmitri Shostakovich (Op. 87), Dmitry Kabalevsky (Op 38). Kyle’s tool will help students, researchers, and enthusiasts of J.S. Bach explore different interpretations of these historically significant pieces – cataloged as BWV 846-869.

Others tools will visualize key data sets from particular projects to aid in communicating findings from our studies to the university community and beyond.  

Monique Tardif (’15) Featured in Now Magazine


Now Toronto LogoThe popular Toronto based magazine Now featured a profile lab alumni Monique Tardif.  The article featured stories on recent university graduates working in their chosen field, and discussed Monique’s experience finding a music cognition position shortly after graduation.  During her time at McMaster, Monique competed a thesis related to rhythm perception in 2015, previously held an NSERC-USRA, and played for several years in the University Percussion Ensemble.  The article discusses her experiences as a student in McMaster’s innovative new music cognition specialization, her research as part of our team, and her new professional role as lab manager at Ryerson University’s SMART Lab. This feature not only provides insight into careers in the arts, but gives perspective on one alumni’s experience combining her interests in the arts and sciences.  Click here to read the article.

MAPLE Lab members share their knowledge at LOVE

Niagara Falls, Ontario

Five lab members presented  posters at the LOVE Conference in Niagara Falls:  Fiona Manning, Annilee Baron, Kimberly Germann, Anna Siminoski, and Aimee Battcock discussed new findings on a variety of topics, ranging from movement and emotion to timing to sound shapes.

Click here for more information about the LOVE Conference.


Fiona Manning


Annilee Baron


Kimberly Germann


Anna Siminoski

Aimee Battcock

Aimee Battcock

Fiona Manning discusses her research on movement and predictive timing on the Colloquium Series

Fiona_ManningWe move to the beat all the time by tapping our fingers, clapping our hands, and even dancing. Fiona Manning is currently researching whether this movement improves our timing abilities. The PNB Department invited her to share her vast knowledge as part of the the PNB Colloquium series—talks typically reserved for faculty members.

Click here for more information about her talk.

New insights into the music of Bach and Chopin published in Frontiers in Psychology (Cognition)

Matt PoonGFrontiersreat minds ranging from Plato to Darwin have posited that music’s power to convey emotion stems in part from its parallels to emotional speech.  Matt Poon (lab alum ’12) explored this intriguing issue by working with Dr. Schutz to quantify the use of cues such as pitch height and attack rate in “balanced” corpus of major/minor key pieces – Bach’s Well-Tempered Clavier and Chopin’s Preludes for piano. This article now appears in a special edition of Frontiers in Psychology.

See the full article online and/or a new  tool visualizing tempo choices for Bach’s Well Tempered Clavier.