Dr Katie OveryKatie_Profile_Photo

Music in Human and Social Development Research Group (previously known as the Institute for Music in Human and Social Development (IMHSD)) Director and Senior Lecturer, Reid School of Music

E-mail: K.Overy@ed.ac.uk


My core research interest is musical learning, which I explore from the perspectives of music psychology, music pedagogy and music neuroscience. I am particularly interested in the positive effects of musical experience and in bridging the gap between research and practice in our understanding of how music can support individuals with diagnoses such as dyslexia, aphasia, autism and dementia. To date I have supervised thirteen PhD theses on topics such as music and dyslexia, music in foreign language learning, music in prison education and music for cochlear implant users.

My own research focuses on musical rhythm and I have co-edited several interdisciplinary special issues on the topic of the musical, rhythmic brain, including for Transactions of the Royal Society B (2015), Proceedings of the New York Academy of Sciences (2012), Cortex (2009) and Contemporary Music Review (2009). My first academic publication in 1998, “Can music really improve the mind?” was one of only six papers recently selected for reprint in the Psychology of Music 40th Anniversary Commemorative Collection (2012).

I was the UK partner in the EC Marie Curie International Training Network EBRAMUS (Europe, Brain and Music) and I am currently a Visiting Professor in Music Education at Western University, Canada, where I have helped to establish Musical Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL), a new initiative bringing together researchers from the Don Wright Faculty of Music and the Brain and Mind Institute.

Selected Grants

2018 IAD Action Fund award

2017 ESRC Impact Grant

2014 The Radcliffe Trust: Music Grant

2012 Royal Society of Edinburgh: Small Research Grant

2012 University of Edinburgh CHSS: Challenge Award

2011 EC PF7 People (IEF): ‘Music Moves’

2010 EC PF7 People (ITN): ‘EBRAMUS: Europe, Brain and Music’

2010 Scottish Arts Council: ‘Inspiring Change’ Evaluation

2009 EC Comenius Programme: ‘European Music Portfolio’

2008 The Grammy Foundation: Music and emotion in individuals with ASD

2008 University of Edinburgh CHSS KT Office: CPD teacher training workshops

2006 AHRC: Essay on the Value of Music Research to Life in the UK

2002 Harold Wingate Foundation: fMRI music research with young children

Recent Publications 

Almeida, A., Overy, K., & Miell, D. (2017). Playing with the Beat: A Process-Oriented Approach to Studying Sensorimotor Synchronization in Early Childhood. The Routledge Companion to Embodied Music Interaction, 40.

Moore, E., Schaefer, R. S., Bastin, M. E., Roberts, N., & Overy, K. (2017). Diffusion tensor MRI tractography reveals increased fractional anisotropy (FA) in arcuate fasciculus following music-cued motor training. Brain and Cognition, 116, 40-46.

Davidson-Kelly, K., Schaefer, R. S., Moran, N., & Overy, K. (2015). “Total inner memory”: Deliberate uses of multimodal musical imagery during performance preparation. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 25(1), 83.

Schaefer, R. S., & Overy, K. (2015). Motor responses to a steady beat. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337(1), 40-44.

Moore, E., Schaefer, R. S., Bastin, M. E., Roberts, N., & Overy, K. (2014). Can musical training influence brain connectivity? Evidence from diffusion tensor MRI. Brain sciences, 4(2), 405-427.

Ludke, K. M., Ferreira, F., & Overy, K. (2014). Singing can facilitate foreign language learning. Memory & cognition, 42(1), 41-52.

Smith, R., Rathcke, T., Cummins, F., Overy, K., & Scott, S. (2014). Communicative rhythms in brain and behaviour. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London B: Biological Sciences, 369(1658), 20130389.

Schaefer, R. S., Morcom, A. M., Roberts, N., & Overy, K. (2014). Moving to music: effects of heard and imagined musical cues on movement-related brain activity. Frontiers in human neuroscience, 8.0305735613517411.

Moir, Z., & Overy, K. (2013). 14 The impact of cochlear implants on musical experience. Medicine, Health and the Arts: Approaches to the Medical Humanities, 246.

Schaefer, R. S., Overy, K., & Nelson, P. (2013). Affect and non-uniform characteristics of predictive processing in musical behaviour. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 36(03), 226-227.

Selected Invited Talks

2014 The Musical Brain, The Brain Prize Meeting 2014, Brain Cognition Fluctuation and Dysfunction, Hindsgavl Castle, Middelfart, Denmark, 2nd-4th November 2014

2013 Musical Learning and the Brain (Keynote), Kodaly Summer School, National Youth Choir of Scotland, Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, 4th-9th August 2013

2013 Rhythm, Movement and the Brain (Keynote), First International Conference of Dalcroze Studies, Coventry, 24th-26th July 2013

2013 Music as Shared Affective Motion Experience (Keynote), International Summer School on Musical Understanding: Philosophical, Psychological, and Neuroscientific Approaches, Sheffield, 8th-11th July 2013

2013 The Musical Brain (Keynote), The 8th International Conference for Research in Music Education (RIME), Exeter, 9th -13th November 2013

Public Engagement

2015 Edinburgh International Science Festival (Talk)

2013  Happy Birthday Danny Boy, Independent Documentary Film (Interview)

2013  Call Kaye, Radio Scotland (Interview)

2013  Singing can help with Foreign Language Learning, The Telegraph online (Interview)

2012  Lost and Sound, Independent Documentary Film (Interview)

2011  Twinkle, Twinkle, The Telegraph online (Interview)

2011  Reel Science, Music Neuroscience, Edinburgh International Film Festival (Curator)

2010  Conversations: Midori, Edinburgh International Festival (Interview)

2009  Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 (Interview)

2009  In Tune, BBC Radio 3 (Interview)

2008  Mapping The Mind, BBC Radio Scotland (Interview)

2008  Oliver Sacks: Tales of Music and the Brain, Imagine, BBC 1 (Consultant)

2006  The Colour of Sound, Independent Documentary Film (Consultant)

2006  Times Educational Supplement (Interview)

2004  The Musical Brain, BBC Music Magazine (Interview)

2003  Society for Neuroscience Press Conference (Panel member)

2002  BBC Radio Sheffield (Interview)

Conference and Workshop Organisation

2015 Musical Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL), Public Symposium, Western University

2013  EBRAMUS Workshop on Music in the Rehabilitation of Memory and Learning, University of Lille

2012  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Hearing, Seeing and Imagining, Herstmonceux Castle

2012  Perspectives on Rhythm and Timing (PoRT), University of Glasgow

2012  Approaches to Rhythm and Timing in Scotland Today (ARTiST), University of Edinburgh

2011  The Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning and Memory, University of Edinburgh

2010  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Music, Pattern and Mathematics, Herstmonceux Castle

2010  Robert Schumann: the Man, the Mind, the Music, London

2009  The Nash Ensemble and the Musical Brain, London

2008  IMHSD Conference: Dance, Timing and Musical Gesture, University of Edinburgh

2007  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Music, Language and Movement, Herstmonceux Castle

2006  Music and Disability, St. Cecilia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh

2006  IMHSD Conference: Rhythm, Time and Temporal Organisation, University of Edinburgh

2005  IMHSD Colloquium: Interactive Minds, University of Edinburgh



  • The Kodaly Approach to Music Education (Course Organiser)
  • Music in the Community (Contributer)
  • Research Methods (Contributer)


  • Music, Mind and Body A: Physiology and Neuroscience (Course Organiser)
  • Music, Mind and Body B: Psychology and Sociology (Course Organiser)
  • Research Methods B (Course Organiser)