Internship Project

Eyes wide open: Studying the Effects of Harmonic Consonance and Dissonance on Pupil Dilation

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Department of Musicology an Media Science
Subject Area
Music Psychology / Computational Musicology
 06 May – 26 July
 20 May – 09 August 

Internship Modality:
On-site internship in Berlin
Online internship

The application is closed, and all positions have been filled.
Applications for 2025 will open in October 2024.
Project Supervisor(s)
Dr. Mats Küssner and Dr. George Athanasopoulos (
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from second year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
Project Type
Academic Research
Project Content
The potential connection between harmonic consonance and dissonance in music and pupillometry, a measure of pupil dilation in response to various stimuli, offers a fascinating avenue for exploring the intersection of music and neuroscience. As listeners engage with musical compositions, their pupils may respond dynamically to the changing harmonies and dissonances within the music. This connection can be indicative of the emotional and cognitive processing involved in music perception, as the brain's arousal and attention mechanisms react to the perceived tension and release in the music. 
By analyzing pupil dilation in response to specific musical elements, it is possible to gain insights into the subjective and physiological reactions to music, shedding light on the intricate relationship between auditory aesthetics and the human autonomic nervous system. 
Tasks for Interns
  • Preparation of music stimuli varying in harmonic consonance and dissonance using Harrison and Pearce's model (2020)
  • Collecting, processing and analysis of data using any of the following statistics packages (R, SPSS, JASP, or equivalent)
  • Preparation of results report
Academic Level
Advanced undergraduate students (from second year) 
Master's students 
Ph.D. students 
  • Knowledge in creating sound stimuli varying in harmonic consonance and dissonance.
  • Familiarity with quantitative and qualitative statistics in social sciences is essential, including a demonstrable applied knowledge in SPSS, R, JASP or any similar statistics package.
  • Experience with conducting psychology experiments with human participants in a lab setting will be considered a bonus.
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For more information on the Humboldt Internship Program or the project, please contact the program coordinator.