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Keywords:

  • music;
  • language;
  • emotion;
  • structure;
  • evolutionary psychology;
  • expertise

The study of music perception and cognition is one of the oldest topics in experimental psychology. The last 20 years have seen an increased interest in understanding the functional neuroanatomy of music processing in humans, using a variety of technologies including fMRI, PET, ERP, MEG, and lesion studies. We review current findings in the context of a rich intellectual history of research, organized by the cognitive systems underlying different aspects of human musical behavior. We pay special attention to the perception of components of musical processing, musical structure, laterality effects, cultural issues, links between music and movement, emotional processing, expertise, and the amusias. Current trends are noted, such as the increased interest in evolutionary origins of music and comparisons of music and language. The review serves to demonstrate the important role that music can play in informing broad theories of higher order cognitive processes such as music in humans.