Board Members

RameshRamesh Balasubramanium

Cognitive and Information Sciences - UC Merced

I study the neural and behavioral basis of motor coordination. My research seeks to understand how the nervous system can assemble two or more moving body parts (say the eye and hand) and bring them into a meaningful relationship with the environment. Action is the most fundamental way we have of interacting with our environments. A vast range of human endeavors including speech, writing, art, music, even pressing a key in a cognitive science experiment, involve the motor system. Thus any theory of cognitive science would be incomplete without a nuanced understanding of how actions are organized.

The primary aim of my research is to understand the organization of human action, with the eventual goal of developing a comprehensive theory of embodied cognition. My research program uses methods from complex dynamical systems, control systems engineering, robotics, neuroimaging and statistical physics to study human movement production at the Cognitive, Neurophysiological and Ecological levels of analysis.

My research employs sophisticated tools from robotics and 3D motion capture combined with brain imaging technologies. While most of the experimental work is fundamental in nature, I have also worked with patients with neurological impairments and participants with expert skills. The experiments are typically also complemented by computational models of the underlying cognitive and behavioral processes.


Sarah CreelSarah Creel

Cogntive Science - UCSD

Sarah Creel is Associate Professor of Cognitive Science at the University of California San Diego. Her main research questions are: how do people form memory representations of sounds, including speech and music? And, how does this change over development (between childhood and adulthood)? Creel Her has investigated how children and adults learn to recognize words, voices, accents, and music. Some of her more recent findings: children are more sensitive to timbre than to melodic contour (at least in the United States); listeners may perceptually “fill in” previously-heard musical knowledge which then shapes their perception of key and meter; voices are easier to recognize in your native language; young children are not yet adept at recognizing voices and detecting foreign accents, relative to older children or adults. Creel has authored nearly 40 journal articles and conference proceedings papers. She currently serves as Associate Editor at the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. Her research is funded by grants from the National Science Foundation.


John IversenJohn Iversen

Shwartz Center for Computational Neuroscience - UCSD

John R. Iversen, PhD is a cognitive neuroscientist studying music and the brain. He is currently an Associate Project Scientist in the Institute for Neural Computation and the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at UCSD. His research focuses on perception and production in music and language including studies of the role of culture in rhythm perception, the evolutionary origins of rhythm perception, and defining the brain mechanisms involved in beat perception, an active form of temporal perception that is central to music and language. He directs the SIMPHONY project, a longitudinal study of the impact of music training on children's brain and cognitive development. After undergraduate studies in Physics at Harvard, John received graduate degrees in History and Philosophy of Science at Cambridge, and received a PhD in Speech and Hearing Science from MIT.


Petr JanataPetr Janata

Psychology and Center for Mind and Brain - UC Davis

My research interests are primarily in the fields of cognitive neuroscience and neuroethology. I use music as a model system for studying the neural basis of auditory attention, imagery, and memory; in particular the ways in which these general functions support the formation and evaluation of expectancies. Since arriving at UC Davis, I have also worked on the relationship between music, emotion, and memory by studying music-evoked autobiographical memories, and the psychological phenomenon of "being in the groove." In a related project I am investigating the relationship of music to spiritual experiences.


JuleneJulene Johnson

UCSF Institute for Health and Aging

My research program focuses on cognitive aging and covers two primary themes: 1) developing cost-effective and novel community-based programs to promote health for diverse older adults and 2) studying mild cognitive impairment as a risk for dementia and functional decline. My research on community-based health promotion involves culturally and ethnically diverse older adults. I am currently collaborating with 12 Department of Aging and Adult Services Senior Centers in San Francisco to study the effect of a community choral program on the health and well-being of culturally diverse older adults.

My studies about mild cognitive impairment aim to better understand the dysexecutive presentation of mild cognitive impairment. In 2010, I was a Fulbright scholar in Finland where I studied how singing in a community choir influences quality of life and well-being. I am currently on the Fulbright Specialist Roster (2012-2017).


Scott MakeigScott Makeig (PI)

Shwartz Center for Computational Neuroscience - UCSD

My primary research interest is in analysis and modeling of human cognitive event-related brain dynamics as captured by high-dimensional EEG, MEG and other imaging modalities including simultaneous eye tracking and body motion capture.

Currently, I am working to apply Independent Component Analysis to EEG and related data to open new windows for noninvasive observation of the relationship between brain dynamics, cognition, and behavior -- in effect working to develop a new brain imaging modality that I call Mobile Brain/Body Imaging (MoBI).

At SCCN we are looking to continue to build collaborations with researchers wanting to apply new analysis methods to EEG and multimodality cognitive neuroscience imaging data, as well as with physicists, engineers, and mathematicians modeling the distributed human brain dynamics underlying brain cognitive capacities including attention, memory, decision-making, emotion, social interaction and creativity including musical expression. Current projects include MoBI (EEG + body motion capture) and EEG correlates of emotion, social neuroscience, reward, musical experience, and insight, as well as advanced EEG source localization and imaging.


markMark Tramo

Institute for Music and Brain Science, David Geffen School of Medicine - UCLA

I am the Director for The Institute for Music & Brain Science, founding member of its Executive Board, Co-Director of the University of California Multi-Campus Music Research Initiative, Associate Clinical Professor of Neurology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Adjunct Professor in Ethnomusicology at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. I am a 2015 recipient of the UC President’s Research Catalyst Award, Dr. Tramo has been awarded grants from the National Institute on Deafness and Communication Disorders, National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke, McDonnell-Pew Program in Cognitive Neuroscience, National Organization for Hearing Research, Grammy Foundation, and other foundations to conduct original research on the neuroanatomy and neurophysiology of music perception and cognition for over 25 years.

I did my doctoral dissertation, Neural Representations of Acoustic Information in Relation to Music & Voice Perception, at Harvard with David Hubel, Marge Livingstone, and Nelson Kiang. I trained in Neurology and Cognitive Neuroscience at Cornell with Fred Plum, Jerome Posner, and Michael Gazzaniga, and studied musical theater with Lehman Engel and John Hood at the Yale Schools of Drama and Music. Also, a winner of the Harvard Provost’s Award for Educational Innovation in 1997-1998, founded the world’s first Music and the Brain course at Harvard College in 1997, and served on the Steering Committee of the Harvard University Mind/Brain/Behavior Initiative from 2000-2009. I have lectured at Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the National Academy of Sciences, Smithsonian Institute, Aspen Ideas Festival, Yale, Stanford, Duke, and elsewhere around the world. My work has been published in Science, Journal of Neurophysiology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Neuropsychologia, Neurology, Contemporary Music Review, Music & Medicine, and other professional journals. As a published songwriter member of ASCAP, I am currently touring science museums throughout the U.S. as part of the Wild Music!



Ken Kreutz-DelgadoGert Lanckriet

UC San Diego

My research focuses on machine learning, optimization, and big data, with applications in computer audition and music information retrieval, multimedia information retrieval, and personalized, mobile health. Previously, I have worked on applications in bioinformatics and financial engineering.

Click here for a short Benefunder video on some of my work in music search and recommendation.

I am also working on an innovative and new funding model for research. Benefunder is reviving the patron funding model by connecting a large, exclusive network of high net worth donors with top researchers, providing lasting funding relationships that are both sizeable and sustainable. Benefunder works with wealth management firms, family offices and private foundations, which represent the highest concentrations of wealth and philanthropy (over $100B per year).