• E-mailStefan.Koelsch@uib.no
  • Phone+47 55 58 62 31
  • Visitor Address
    Jonas Lies vei 91
  • Postal Address
    Postboks 7807
    5020 BERGEN

Stefan Koelsch (Kölsch) is a brain scientist and bestselling author recruited by UiB in 2015 as a Toppforsk (excellent research) Professor. His main research fields are neuroscience and experimental psychology. He is known for highly interdisciplinary work, co-authoring publications with neurologists, immunologists, psychiatrists, physicists, philosophers, musicologists, literary scholars, and psycholinguists. His ISI h-index is 50 (70 in scholar.google), with an average of >65 citations per article.

Prof. Koelsch describes his research interests as follows: “I am interested in which brain processes make us happy and healthy, and unhappy and sick. I have a powerful personal connection to music (being a former musician myself), and I am particularly interested in how music can support mood-regulation, social connection, and self-motivation. I am also interested in the therapeutic effects of music on disorders and diseases, especially neurological diseases and psychiatric disorders. My group is currently running a large study funded by the Norwegian Research Council (Forskningsradet) investigating the therapeutic effects of music therapy and physical exercise in patients with Alzheimer’s disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, and Subjective Cognitive Decline. Other neuroscience projects in my group investigate neural correlates of emotion, learning, and predictive processes.

Stefan Koelsch is also a research fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig (Germany).

More on his research group

More about the Max Planck Institute

Research Interests

  • Emotions and the brain
    • Moodregulation with music
  • Clinical Interventions in Alzheimer's disease.
    • The therapeutic effects of music and physical activity in Alzheimer's disease
  • Neuroscientific methods
    • fMRI (functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging)
    • MRS (Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy)
  • Predicitive processes in the brain
  • Music and the brain


På sangens lykkepille

News article in A-Magasinet about neuroscience and music 30.11.18 (In Norwegian)

Selected publications

Publication list in google.scholar

Academic article
  • Show author(s) 2020. Cortical thickness and resting‐state cardiac function across the lifespan: A cross‐sectional pooled mega‐analysis. Psychophysiology. 16 pages.
  • Show author(s) 2020. A coordinate-based meta-analysis of music-evoked emotions. NeuroImage. 1-10.
  • Show author(s) 2019. When the statistical MMN meets the physical MMN. Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2019. Uncertainty and surprise jointly predict musical pleasure and amygdala, hippocampus, and auditory cortex activity. Current Biology. 4084-4092.e4.
  • Show author(s) 2019. The Effect of Emotional Valence on Ventricular Repolarization Dynamics Is Mediated by Heart Rate Variability: A Study of QT Variability and Music-Induced Emotions. Frontiers in Physiology.
  • Show author(s) 2019. Heroic music stimulates empowering thoughts during mind-wandering . Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2018. The right inferior frontal gyrus processes nested non-local dependencies in music. Scientific Reports. 1-12.
  • Show author(s) 2018. The auditory cortex hosts network nodes influential for emotion processing: An fMRI study on music-evoked fear and joy. PLOS ONE. 1-22.
  • Show author(s) 2018. Identifying Emotional Specificity in Complex Large-Scale Brain Networks. Emotion Review. 217-218.
  • Show author(s) 2018. Hippocampal-Temporopolar Connectivity Contributes to Episodic Simulation during Social Cognition. Scientific Reports. 1-13.
  • Show author(s) 2017. The emotional power of poetry: Neural circuitry, psychophysiology and compositional principles. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience. 1229-1240.
  • Show author(s) 2017. Language and music phrase boundary processing in Autism Spectrum Disorder: An ERP study. Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2017. Effects of Sad and Happy Music on Mind-Wandering and the Default Mode Network. Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2016. Under the hood of statistical learning: A statistical MMN reflects the magnitude of transitional probabilities in auditory sequences. Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2016. The impact of acute stress on hormones and cytokines, and how their recovery is affected by music-evoked positive mood. Scientific Reports.
  • Show author(s) 2016. Neurophysiological correlates of musical and prosodic phrasing: Shared processing mechanisms and effects of musical expertise. PLOS ONE.
  • Show author(s) 2006. Brain, Music, Plasticity, and Development. Zeitschrift für Erziehungswissenschaft. 51-70.
  • Show author(s) 2017. Brain correlates of music-evoked emotions and implications for therapy.
Academic chapter/article/Conference paper
  • Show author(s) 2007. Einflüsse von Entwicklungsveränderungen auf die Musikwahrnehmung und die Beziehung von Musik und Sprache [The relationship of music and language and developmental influences on music perception]. 24 pages.
  • Show author(s) 2019. Statistical learning in the developing brain.
Academic literature review
  • Show author(s) 2019. What are aesthetic emotions? Psychological review. 171-195.
  • Show author(s) 2019. Predictive processes and the peculiar case of music. Trends in Cognitive Sciences. 63-77.
  • Show author(s) 2017. Effects of music therapy and music-based interventions in the treatment of substance use disorders: A systematic review. PLOS ONE. 1-36.
Article in business/trade/industry journal
  • Show author(s) 2019. Uncertainty and Surprise Jointly Predict Musical Pleasure and Amygdala, Hippocampus, and Auditory Cortex Activity. Current Biology.

More information in national current research information system (CRIStin)

2014 – 2015 Professor (Chair) of Psychology (Emotion Psychology and Biological Psychology), Faculty of Psychology at Lancaster University, UK.

2010 – 2014 Professor of Psychology (Biological Psychology and Music Psychology), Free University Berlin, Germany.

2006 – 2010 Senior Lecturer, University of Sussex, UK.

2003 – 2008 Assistant Professor / Leader of an Independent Max Planck Junior Research Group Max Planck Institute Cognitive Neuroscience, Leipzig, Germany.

2001 – 2002 Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Harvard Medical School, Department of Neurology/Neuroimaging (Group Professor Dr. G. Schlaug), Harvard University, USA.

2000 – 2001 Postdoctoral stipendiary of the Max Planck Institute of Cognitive NeuroScience (Department Professor Dr. A. D. Friederici), Leipzig, Germany.


2004 German Habilitation, 06.12.2004, Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience / University of Leipzig (Faculty of Biosciences, Pharmacy, and Psychology), Germany.

2000 Ph.D. in Psychology (Dr. rer. nat.), 08.05.2000, Max Planck Institute for Cognitive Neuroscience / University of Leipzig, Germany (best mark / summa cum laude).