Niels Chr. Hansen

Niels Chr. Hansen joined the CSML as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in September 2016. His primary research interests include the behavioural and neural correlates of musical expertise, uncertainty in melodic pitch expectations, computational modelling of statistical learning, musical emotions, and the evolutionary origins of human musicality and joint music making.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any comments, questions, or good ideas (

Academic positions

2018-19: Postdoc, MARCS, Western Sydney University, Australia. Supervisor: Prof. Peter Keller

2016-18: Postdoc, School of Music, Ohio State University, USA. Supervisor: Prof. David Huron

2016: Postdoc, Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University (AU) & Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg (RAMA), Denmark. Supervisor: Prof. Peter Vuust

2015-16: External lecturer and examiner, RAMA

2012-16: PhD student, AU/RAMA. Supervisors: Prof. Peter Vuust & Dr Marcus Pearce

2011-12: Research assistant, Queen Mary, University of London, UK. Supervisor: Dr Marcus Pearce


2012-16: PhD, Aarhus University & Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg. Dissertation: “Predictive coding of musical expertise”. Supervisors: Prof. Peter Vuust (AU/RAMA) & Dr Marcus Pearce (Queen Mary, London, UK)

2010-11: MSc Music, Mind & Brain (distinction), Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. Dissertation: “Perceptual uncertainty in melodic pitch expectation tested against entropy predictions of the IDyOM Model”. Supervisor: Dr Marcus Pearce.

2007-11: MMus Music Theory, Royal Academy of Music Aarhus/Aalborg. Credits awarded for Erasmus exchange at University of Amsterdam & Conservatory of Amsterdam

2004-07: BA Classical Piano and Music Theory, RAMA. Piano studies: Prof Anne Øland. Theory studies: Anders Brødsgaard & Thorkil Mølle. Public concerts in DK, SE, PL, NL, DE, UK, LV, and IT

2001-04: Preparatory course for conservatory, Køge Music School.

2000-03: High-school certificate, Sankt Annæ Gymnasium (2nd highest grade in DK). Specialisation: German & Music

Awards & scholarships

2017: Internationalisation Fellowship (postdoc), Carlsberg Foundation, DKK 350,000

SMPC Travel Award, Society for Music Perception and Cognition, USD 500

SMT Unsupported Scholar Grant, Society for Music Theory, USD 400

2016: The Humanities and the Arts Travel Grants Program, Ohio State University, USD 10,000

2014: EliteForsk (Elite Researcher Travel Award), Danish Ministry of Education & Science, DKK 300,000

2008-: Travel scholarships from ~20 Danish foundations, DKK ~300,000

2007: Initiative Prize, awarded by the Students’ Union, Royal Academy of Music Aarhus

Dissemination & professional activities

2016: Speaker, TEDxAARHUS. Title: “We are all musical beings

2013-: Peer-reviewer for PLOS ONE, Frontiers in Psychology, PerceptionMusic Perception, Psychology of Music, Psychomusicology, Musicae Scientiae, Music & Science, Music Theory Online, Journal of Music and Meaning, Swedish Journal of Music Research, SysMus, ICMPC 

2012-: Research disseminationin national and regional Danish media (P1, P4 Østjylland, Radio 24Syv, Politiken[1,2], Jyllands-Posten[1,2], Kristeligt Dagblad[1,2,3], Weekendavisen, Århus Stiftstidende, MetroXpress, Se&Hør, Søndagsavisen,, GRAMEX[1,2])

Research visits

2014: MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University, Australia. 2 months. Supervisor: Prof. Peter Keller

2013: Centre for Digital Music, Queen Mary, University of London, UK. 2 months. Supervisor: Dr Marcus Pearce

2008-09: University of Amsterdam & Conservatory of Amsterdam, The Netherlands. 1-year. Erasmus exchange. Supervisor: Dr Michiel Schuijer (and others)


Hansen, N.C. & Huron, D. (resubmission in review). Twirling triplets: the qualia of rotation and musical rhythm. Music & Science.

Léveillé Gauvin, H., Reymore, L., Brinkman, A., Karakurt, A., & Hansen, N.C. (resubmission in review). Popular music as vocal communication: testing whether musical harmony and tempo predict affective content of lyrics in a novel cross-cultural corpus. Music & Science.

Hansen, N.C. & Huron, D. (2018). The lone instrument: musical solos and sadness-related features. Music Perception, 35(5), 540-560. doi:10.1525/mp.2018.35.5.540

Møller, C., Højlund, A., Bærentsen, K.B., Hansen, N.C., Skewes, J.C., & Vuust, P. (2018). Visually induced gains in pitch discrimination: linking audio-visual processing with auditory abilities. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics. doi:10.3758/s13414-017-1481-8

Hansen, N.C., Dietz, M.J., & Vuust, P. (2017). Commentary: Predictions and the brain: how musical sounds become rewarding. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience 11(168). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00168

Gebauer*, L., Witek*, M, Hansen, N.C., Thomas, J, Konvalinka, I., & Vuust, P. (2016). Oxytocin improves synchronisation in leader-follower interaction. Scientific Reports 6(38416), 1-13. doi: 10.1038/srep38416

Hansen, N.C., Vuust, P., & Pearce, M. (2016). “If you’ve got to ask, you’ll never know”: Style-congruent musical expertise optimises predictive auditory processing. PLOS ONE 11(10): e0163584. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0163584

Ross*, S. & Hansen*, N.C. (2016). Dissociating prediction failure: Considerations from music perception. The Journal of Neuroscience 36(11), 3103-3105. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0053-16.2016

Hansen, N.C., Sadakata, M., & Pearce, M. (2016). Non-linear changes in the rhythm of European art music: Quantitative support for historical musicology. Music Perception 33(4), 414-431. doi:10.1525/MP.2016.33.4.414

Hansen, N.C. (2015). Nye perspektiver på studiet af musikalsk ekspertise [‘New perspectives on the scientific study of musical expertise’].Danish Musicology Online – Special Issue 2015.

Hansen, N.C., & Pearce, M. (2014). Predictive uncertainty in auditory sequence processing. Frontiers in Psychology 5, 1052.

Hansen, N.C. (2013). Cognitive approaches to analysis of emotions in music listening. In: M. Zatkalik et al., Histories and Narratives of Music Analysis (pp. 597-627), Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

Hansen, N.C., & Pearce, M. (2012). Shannon entropy predicts perceptual uncertainty in the generation of melodic pitch expectations. In:Cambouropoulos et al. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition & the 8th Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music.

Hansen, N.C. (2011). The Legacy of Lerdahl & Jackendoff’s Generative Theory of Tonal Music: Bridging a significant event in the history of music theory and recent developments in cognitive music research. Danish Yearbook of Musicology 38.

Hansen, N.C. (2011). Luciano Berio’s ‘Sequenza V’ analyzed along the lines of four analytical dimensions proposed by the composer. Journal of Music and Meaning 9, 16-37.

Vuust, P., Gebauer, L., Hansen, N.C., Jørgensen, S.R., Møller, A. & Linnet, J. (2010). Personality influences career choice: Sensation seeking in professional musicians. Music Education Research 12/2, 219-30.

Hansen, N.C. (2010). ‘Japanese in Tradition, Western in Innovation’: Influences from Traditional Japanese Music in Tōru Takemitsu’s Piano Works. Dutch Journal of Music Theory 15/2, 97-114.

Hansen, N.C. (2008). Different approaches to an improvisational practice based on the piano music of Toru Takemitsu. Journal of Music and Meaning 6.