Dr Maria Witek

Department of Music
Senior Birmingham Fellow

Contact details

Room 106, Ashley Building
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I’m a research fellow investigating music cognition, psychology and neuroscience, with a special focus on rhythm, body-movement, affect and musical groove.

Feedback and office hours

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  • BA Musicology, University of Oslo (2006)
  • MA Music Psychology, University of Sheffield (2008)
  • DPhil Music, University of Oxford (2013)


I have worked and studied across music and cognitive science since finishing my undergraduate degree in musicology in Oslo, most recently as Assistant Professor at the Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University, Denmark.


  • Introduction to Music Cognition
  • Music and Emotion

Postgraduate supervision

I am interested in hearing from potential doctoral students wishing to study music cognition, psychology and neuroscience, especially (but not limited to) rhythm, body-movement, emotion and groove.

Find out more - our Music postgraduate study  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My research to date has largely focused on musical groove, which is psychologically defined as a musical quality associated with a pleasurable desire to move. In this work, I have studied how rhythm affords affective experience, using both empirical and theoretical approaches. My empirical methodology has included finger-tapping experiments, motion-capture, physiological recording, brain imaging (fMRI), subjective reports and semi-structured interviews. My music-analytical approach relies on theories of embodied cognition and extended mind.

Other activities

I frequently act as scientific advisor for artists and composers working outside academia, who actively incorporate scientific aspects of music in their work.


Peer-reviewed journal articles (*shared first-author):

Book chapters:

  • Vuust, P., Gebauer, L. & Witek, M. A. G. (2014): Neural Underpinnings of Music: The Polyrhythmic Brain. In Hugo Merchant (Ed.) Neurobiology of Interval Timing. Berlin & Heidelberg: Springer, 339-359.
  • Carlsen, K. & Witek, M.A.G. (2010): Simultaneous Rhythmic Events with Different Schematic Affiliations: Microtiming and Entrainment in Two Contemporary R&B Grooves. In Anne Danielsen (Ed.) Musical Rhythm in the Age of Digital Reproduction. Aldershot: Ashgate

Commentaries and conference proceedings:

Witek, M. A. G. & Vuust, P. (2017): Comment on Solberg & Jensenius: The Temporal Dynamics of Embodied Pleasure in Music: Empirical Musicology Review, 11(3-4), pp. 324-329.

Witek, M.A.G., Kringelbach, M.L. & Vuust, P. (2015): Musical Rhythm and Affect: Comment on “The Quartet Theory of Human Emotions: An Integrative and Neurofunctional Model” by S. Koelsch et al. Physics of Life Reviews, 13, 92-94. 

Witek, M. A. G. (2009): Groove Experience: Emotional and Physiological Responses to Groove-Based Music. Proceedings of the 7th Triennial Conference of the European Society for the Cognitive Sciences of Music, ESCOM, University of Jyvaskyla.

View all publications in research portal