Peter Vuust

Leader of Music in the BrainPeter Vuust

Peter Vuust is Professor at Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus and associate Professor at Center of Functionally Integrative Neuroscience, Aarhus University


Peter Vuust is a unique combination of a world class musician and a top-level scientist. He plays and records with international jazz stars such as Lars Jansson, Tim Hagans, John Abercrombie and Jukkis Uotila, and appears on more than 85 records, 6 of these as band leader. Based on his distinguished music and research career, he was appointed Professor at RAMA in 2012. After graduating from AU in Mathematics, French and Music, he devoted ten years to playing music, before resuming an academic career in 2000. He wrote a book on polyrhythms in Miles Davis’ quintet that laid out the musicological framework for his PhD in neuroscience in 2006 concerning the neural processing of polyrhythms. Using neuroimaging (EEG, MEG and fMRI), he provided evidence of an overlap between neural substrates underlying processing of music and language, especially in musicians. This led to research into emotional impact of music, studies of neuroplasticity, clinical applications of music, and research into general theories about brain  organization.
Vuust collaborates and publishes with top-researchers such as Chris Frith, Risto Näätänen, Sonja Kotz, Eric Clarke and Petri Toiviainen. Since 2007, Peter Vuust has led his own group and provided funding for PhD-students and postdocs through external collaborations, local committee applications, research councils, private companies and foundations.
As a leader, Peter Vuust draws on his many national and international personal relations and on his experience through 20 years as leader and fundraiser for his jazz orchestra, Peter Vuust Quartet.

Peter Vuust’s publication record counts nearly 50 publications in international, peer-reviewed journals, excluding 6 submitted publications in 2014. Of these publications Peter Vuust is first author of 19 papers, and last author of 27 papers. He has written several book chapters, and two monographs. He publishes in the highest ranking journals in the field of cognitive neuroscience: Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Cerebral Cortex, Cortex, and NeuroImage. Furthermore, he publishes in the highest ranking journals specialized for musicology (Music Perception and The Psychology of Music). Vuust et al. Cortex, 2009 on predictive coding of music has been cited 63 times, and Vuust et al, NeuroImage, 2005 on the influence of expertise on rhythmic processing, 107 times (PoP). The latter work showed that non-verbal rhythm cues are processed pre-dominantly in the left hemisphere of expert jazz musicians in comparison to non-musicians. The issue of left-lateralized processing of music is crucial because it questions the unique affinity between language tasks and the inferior frontal and superior temporal lobes in the left hemisphere. It has affected current thinking on the interactions of musical and linguistic stimuli also in rehabilitation efforts of language, and it has important implications for such topics as pre- and postnatal learning and dyslexia. That musical expertise is related to left-hemispheric brain activity in relation to rhythms has later been replicated for melody (by e.g. Herholz et al, 2009) and for harmony (by Tervaniemi et al, 2012).

Publications 2004-2014

  • Dohn A, Garza-Villarreal E, Ribe LR, Wallentin M, Vuust P (2014): Musical Activity Tunes Up Absolute Pitch Ability, Music Perception, In Press
  • Garza-Villarreal E, Wilson A D, Vase L, Brattico E, Østergaard L, Barrios F, Jensen T S,
  • Romero-Romo J I, Vuust P (2014): Music reduces pain and increases functional mobility in fibromyalgia, Frontiers In Psychology 5(90)
  • Gebauer L, Vuust P (2014): Music Interventions in Health Care. White-Paper for Danish Sound Innovation Network, The Technical University of Denmark.
  • Gebauer L, Skewes J, Westphael G, Heaton P & Vuust P. (2014). Intact brain processing of musical emotions in Autism Spectrum Disorder, but more cognitive load in happy versus sad music. Frontiers In Neuroscience, In review
  • Gebauer L, Foster NE, Vuust P, Hyde KL (2014. Is there a bit of autism in all of us? Autistic traits are related to cortical thickness differences in autism and typical development, In prep.
  • Gebauer L, Skewes JC, Hoerlyck L, Vuust, P (2014). Atypical perception but intact brain processing of affective prosody in Autism Spectrum Disorder, NeuroImage Clinical, In Press
  • Timm L, Vuust P, Brattico E, Agrawal D, Debener S, Büchner A, Dengler R, Wittfoth M (2014): Musical feature perception in CI users, Frontiers In Psychology, In Press
  • Petersen B, Weed E, Sandmann P, Brattico E, Hansen M, Derdau S, Vuust P (2014), Brain Responses to Musical Features in Adolescent Cochlear Implant Users Before and After an Intensive Musical Training Program, Frontiers in Psychology, In Review
  • Vuust P, Witek M (2014) Rhytmic Complexity and Predictive Coding, Frontiers in Psychology, In review
  • Vuust P, Liikala L, Seppänen M, Näätänen R, Tervaniemi M, Brattico P, Brattico E (2014): “Multiple MMNs to six different auditory feature deviants of different magnitudes recorded with a new, fast, musical multi-feature MMN paradigm”, Psychophysiology, in Preparation
  • Witek AG, Clarke EF, Kringelbach ML, Vuust P (2014): Effects of Polyphonic Context, Instrumentation and Metrical Location on Syncopation in Music, Music Perception, In Press
  • Witek AG, Clarke EF, Wallentin M, Kringelbach ML, Vuust P (2014): Syncopation, Body-Movement and Pleasure in Groove Music. PloS ONE 9(4),


  • Alluri V, Toiviainen P, Lund T, Wallentin M, Vuust P, Nandi AK, Ristaniemi T, Brattico E (2013): From Vivaldi to Beatles and back: predicting brain responses to music in real time. NeuroImage, 83, 627–636
  • Dohn A, Garza-Villarreal E, Chakravarty M, Hansen M, Lerch, JP, Vuust P (2013): Gray and White Matter Anatomy of Absolute Pitch Possessors, Cerebral Cortex, Epub
  • Hansen M, Wallentin M, Vuust P (2013): Working memory and musical competence of musicians and non-musicians. Psychology of Music, 41(6), p. 779-793
  • Jespersen K, Koenig J, Jennum P, Vuust P (2013): Listening to music for improving sleep in adults with insomnia, Cochrane protocol, Published Online: 28 MAR 2013
  • Roncaglia-Denissen P, Schmidt-Kassow M, Heine A, Vuust P, Kotz, SA (2013): Enhanced musical rhythmic perception in Turkish early and late learners of German, Frontiers In Psychology 4(645)
  • Toiviainen P, Alluri V, Brattico E, Wallentin M & Vuust P: Grasping the musical brain with Lasso: dynamic decoding of musical features from fMRI data, NeuroImage, 88C, p. 170-180
  • Petersen B, Wallentin M, Gjedde A, Vuust, P (2013): Cortical Plasticity after Cochlear Implantation. Neural Plasticity, Epub, Nov 26
  • Vuust P, Gebauer L, Witek M (2013): Neural Underpinnings of Music: The Polyrhythmic Brain, In the “Neurobiology of interval timing”, Springer, in Press


  • Dohn A, Garza-Villarreal E, Heaton P, Vuust P (2012): Do musicians with perfect pitch have more autism traits than musicians without perfect pitch? An empirical study. PLoS one, 7(5).
  • Gebauer L, Kringelbach ML & Vuust, P (2012). Ever-changing cycles of musical pleasure: the role of dopamine and anticipation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind & Brain, 22(2), 152-167.
  • Green A, Bærentsen KB, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Roepstorff A, Vuust P (2012): Listen, learn, like! Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex involved in the mere exposure effect in music. Neurology Research International, 2012:846270.
  • Jespersen K, Vuust P (2012): The effect of relaxation music listening on sleep quality of traumatized refugees, Journal of Music Therapy, 49(2):205-229.
  • Petersen B, Mortensen MV, Hansen M, Vuust, P (2012): Singing in the key of life – a pilot study on effects of musical ear training after cochlear implantation. Psychomusicology 22(2), 134-151
  • Vuust P, Brattico E, Seppänen M, Näätänen R, Tervaniemi M (2012): The sound of music: differentiating musicians using a fast, musical multi-feature mismatch negativity paradigm. Neuropsychologia 50(7), 1432-43.


  • Garza-Villarreal E, Brattico E, Leino S, Østergaard L, Vuust P (2011): Distinct neural responses to chord violations: a multiple source analysis study. Brain Research, 1389:103-14.
  • Garza-Villarreal E, Brattico E, Vase L, Østergaard L, Vuust P (2011): Superior analgesic effect of an active distraction versus pleasant unfamiliar sounds and music: the influence of emotion and cognitive style. PLoS one, 7(1):e29397.
  • Gebauer L & Vuust, P (2011): The Rewards of Music Listening – The role of midbrain dopamine in musical anticipation, Proceedings of the International Conference on Music Perception and Cogniton, 2011
  • Petersen B, Hansen RH, Beyer K, Mortensen MV & Vuust P (2011): Music for little digital ears – Music training with preschool children using cochlear implants. International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, 75 (Supplement 1), 66.
  • Vuust P, Wallentin M, Mouridsen K, Østergaard L, Roepstorff A (2011): Tapping Polyrhythms in Music Activates Language Areas. Neuroscience Letters, 494(3):211-6.
  • Vuust P, Brattico E, Glerean E, Seppänen M, Pakarinen S, Tervaniemi M, Näätänen R (2011): New fast mismatch negativity paradigm for determining the neural prerequisites for musical ability. Cortex, 47(9):1091-8.
  • Vuust P, Brattico E, Seppänen M, Näätänen R, Tervaniemi M (2011): Practiced musical style shapes auditory skills, Annals Of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1252:139-46
  • Wallentin M, Nielsen AH, Vuust P, Dohn A, Roepstorff A, Lund TE (2011): BOLD response to motion verbs in left posterior middle temporal gyrus during story comprehension. Brain and Language, 119(3):221-5.
  • Wallentin M, Nielsen AH, Vuust P, Dohn A, Roepstorff A, Lund TE (2011): Amygdala and heart rate variability responses from listening to emotionally intense parts of a story. NeuroImage. 58(3):963-73.


  • Konvalinka I, Vuust P Roepstorff A, Frith CD (2010): Follow You, Follow Me: Continuous
  • Mutual Prediction and Adaptation in Joint Tapping. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 63(11):2220-30
  • Vuust P, Kringelbach ML (2010): The pleasure of making sense of music. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 35(2):166-182
  • Vuust P, Josefsen LG, Hansen NC, Ramsgaard Jørgensen S, Møller A, Linnet J (2010): Personality influences career choice: Sensation seeking in professional musicians. Music Education Research 12(2):219-230
  • Wallentin M, Nielsen AH, Friis-Olivarius M, Vuust C, Vuust P (2010): The Musical Ear Test, a new reliable test for measuring musical competence. Learning and Individual Differences


  • Friis-Olivarius M, Wallentin M, Vuust P (2009): Improvisation – the Neural Foundation for Creativity. Proceedings of the 2009 ACM SIGCHI conference on creativity and cognition: p. 411-412.
  • Vuust P, Ostergaard L, Pallesen K J, Bailey C, Roepstorff A (2009): Predictive coding of music: brain responses to rhythmic incongruity. Cortex, 45:80-92.
  • Konvalinka I, Vuust P, Roepstorff A, Frith C (2009): A coupled oscillator model of interactive tapping. European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM), 7 edn, Jyväskylä.
  • Chakravarty MM, Vuust P (2009): Musical Morphology, Annals of The New York Academy Of Sciences, 1169:79-83.
  • Garza E, Brattico E, Leino S, Østergaard L, Vuust P (2009): Harmony Wants to Sit in the Front: Different Brain Responses to Violations in Chord Progressions. European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music (ESCOM), 7 edn, Jyväskylä.
  • Vuust P (2009): Perception, Cognition, and Learning: Cognitive Research at the Music Academies in Denmark, Danish Yearbook of Musicology, 36:9-19.


  • Petersen B, Mortensen MV, Gjedde A, Vuust P (2008): Reestablishing speech understanding through musical training after cochlear implantation. Annals of New Yoork Academy of Sciences, 1169:437-440.
  • Vuust P, Frith C (2008): Anticipation is the key to understanding music and the effects of music on emotion. Behavioral and Brain Research, 31:599-600.
  • Kringelbach ML, Vuust P, Geake J (2008): The Pleasure of Reading. Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, 33(4):321-335.
  • Vuust P, Roepstorff, A. (2008): Listen up! Polyrhythms in brain and music. Journal of Cognitive Semiotics 2008(3):134-158.
  • Green AC, Bærentsen KB, Stødkilde-Jørgensen H, Wallentin M, Roepstorff A, Vuust P (2008): Music in minor activates limbic structures: a relationship with dissonance? NeuroReport, 19(7), 711-715.
  • Vuust P, Kringelbach, ML (2008): The pleasure of music. In ML Kringelbach & KC Berridge, Pleasures of the Brain, Oxford. Oxford University Press, p. 255-269


  • Vuust P (2007): Musikkens Sprog. Psyke & Logos, 28, nr 1, p. 186-209. Leino S, Brattico E, Tervaniemi M, Vuust P (2007): Representation of harmony rules in the human brain. Brain Research, 1142:169-77.

2006 (PhD finalized, February 2)

  • Vuust P, Østergaard L, & Roepstorff A (2006). Polyrhythmic communicational devices appear as language in the brains of musicians. Proceedings from the 9th International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition, 2006 (pp. 1159-1167).
  • Vuust P, Roepstorff A, Wallentin M, Mouridsen K, Østergaard L (2006). It Don’t Mean a Thing… NeuroImage, vol. 31 nr. 2, 832-841.
  • Vuust P, Pallesen KJ, Bailey C, Van Zuijen TL, Gjedde A, Roepstorff A, Ostergaard L (2005). To musicians, the message is in the meter pre-attentive neuronal responses to incongruent rhythm are left-lateralized in musicians. NeuroImage, 24, 560-564.

Selcted Distinctions
2014 Member of the scientific committee of the Lundbeck Foundation’s Brain Prize
2012 Second round in the ERC starting grant
2011 Second round in the Danish National Research Foundation’s call for centers of excellence
2008 Member of the Research Council of the Ministry of Culture, Denmark
2008 Member of the Editorial Board of Psychomusicology
2007 Member of the Selection Committee for Holstebro Music Award
2012 – Chairman of the Executive Committee of “Portalen”
2012 – Member of the Advisory Board of Aarhus Music Hall
2009 – Member of the Coordinating Committee for MINDLab, AU
2008 – Member of the Coordinating Committee for CFIN
2007 – Head of the “Music In the Brain” group, AU/RAMA
2005 – Chairman of the Research Committee at RAMA
1994 – Leader of the jazz group Peter Vuust Quartet

Reviewer for J. Neuroscience, J. Cognitive Neuroscience, NeuroImage, Cerebral Cortex, Cortex, Psychophysiology, Brain Research, Experimental Brain Research, Music Perception, Psychomusicology, PLoSone, Frontiers, NWO, ISF, NSF, and two international doctoral defenses.

Invited lectures
In total more than 100 during the last four years (full list:, among others
The International Symposium on Music performance: Art and Neuroscience in Dialogue, Tuebingen
Neurodynamics of Language and Music symposium, Helsinki
The Neuroscience of Music IV, Edinburg
Mozart & Science Congress, Vienna
British Psychological Society, Stratford-upon-Avon
Experimental Psychology Society, York
BRAMS, McGill University, Montreal
Max Planck Institute, Leipzig
Oxford University
Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, London
Functional Imaging Laboratory/Wellcome Centre of Cognitive Neuroscience, London

Research dissemination
More than 100 media appearances during the last four years on various subjects related to music, brain and cognition (full list:

Selected Recordings
2013 Peter Vuust Quartet: September Song
2009 Ramajam: Søvnløs på Jupiter
2006 Lars Jansson Trio: Live at Smagløs
2005 Peter Vuust Quartet: Image of Falling
2005 Bærentzen/Koppel Vuust: Carl Nielsen
2003 Peter Vuust Quartet: Homesick
1998 Peter Vuust Quartet: The Big View
1995 Peter Vuust Quartet: Travel Light
1992 Blue in Green: “Songs”

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