Henkjan Honing conducts research into the role of perception, attention, expectation and memory in the process of listening to music, and studies the cognitive mechanisms underlying (human) musicality. His research involves the use of theoretical, empirical and computational methods.
Working in collaboration with Hungarian colleagues, Honing's research group recently demonstrated that babies are capable of hearing the beat in music, a result supporting the view that beat-induction (or a sense of rhythm) is an innate and music-specific skill. The study also suggests that this natural sense of rhythm may have played an important role in the evolution of music. Over the coming years, Honing will be seeking to further expand his research in three sub-areas. Firstly, he will be conducting research on the mechanisms underlying human musicality, such as a sense of rhythm and relative pitch. Secondly, he will be working to further develop and evaluate the computational modelling methods developed over the past few years, with a special focus on the role of surprise within such models. Thirdly, he will be further exploring the potential use of the Internet in researching how we listen to music.
Honing obtained his PhD at City University (London) in 1991 with research into the representation of time and temporal structure in music. During the period between 1992 and 1997, he worked as a KNAW researcher at the University of Amsterdam's Institute for Logic, Language and Computation (ILLC), where he conducted a study on the formalisation of musical knowledge. Up until 2003, he worked as a research coordinator at the Nijmegen Institute for Cognition and Information (NICI) where he specialised in the computational modelling of musical cognition. In 2007, he was appointed associate professor in Musical Cognition at the University of Amsterdam's Musicology capacity group. He conducts his research projects under the auspices of the ILLC and the University of Amsterdam's Cognitive Science Center Amsterdam (CSCA). Honing has authored over one hundred and fifty international publications in the area of musical cognition and music technology. He recently published a book for the general public entitled Iedereen is muzikaal. Wat we weten over het luisteren naar muziek (Nieuw Amsterdam, 2009).