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Petr Janata


  • Ph.D., Biology (Neuroscience), University of Oregon, 1996
  • B.A., Interdisciplinary (Biology/Psychology), Reed College, 1990


In addition to his academic appointment in the Department of Psychology, Petr Janata is a faculty member in the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. He is a cognitive neuroscientist studying the psychology of music. Professor Janata served on the Executive Board of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition and is on the Medical Advisory Board of Coro Health, LLC. He is a member of several professional organizations, including the Society for Neuroscience, the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, and the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. He also served as a reviewing editor of Brain Research from 2006 to 2007 and has been an ad-hoc reviewer for many scholarly journals, foundations, and funding agencies.

Research Focus

Professor Janata’s research interests are in the field of cognitive neuroscience, with a focus on music and auditory perception. His lab uses behavioral, functional neuroimaging (EEG/ERP, fMRI) and computational modeling techniques as needed to examine the bases for strong experiences with music, as well as more fundamental mechanisms of music perception in the context of domain-general brain functions.  Diverse projects include investigations of (1) mechanisms of auditory attention, imagery and memory; in particular the ways in which these general functions support the formation and evaluation of expectancies; (2) music-evoked autobiographical remembering and emotions; (3) psychological and neural mechanisms of being “in the groove”; and (4) links between timbre and emotion.

Selected Publications

  • Janata, P.,  Tomic, S. T., &  Haberman, J. M. (2012). Sensorimotor coupling in music and the psychology of the groove. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General 141:54-75. 
  • Fairhurst, M. T.,  Janata, P., &  Keller, P. E. (2012). Being and Feeling in Sync with an Adaptive Virtual Partner: Brain Mechanisms Underlying Dynamic Cooperativity. Cerebral Cortex
  • Navarro Cebrian, A., &  Janata, P. (2010). Electrophysiological Correlates of Accurate Mental Image Formation in Auditory Perception and Imagery Tasks. Brain Research. 1342:39–54. [doi: DOI: 10.1016/j.brainres.2010.04.026]. 
  • Navarro Cebrian, A., &  Janata, P. (2010). Influences of multiple memory systems on auditory mental image acuity. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 127(5) 3189-3202.
  • Barrett, F. S.,  Grimm, K. J.,  Robins, R. W., Wildschut, T., Sedikides, C., & Janata,  P. (2010). Music-evoked nostalgia: Affect, memory, and personality. Emotion. 10(3): 390–403.


Professor Janata teaches in the areas of Perception, Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. He has taught Cognitive Neuroscience: The Biological Foundations of the Mind, Psychology of Music, and a MATLAB programming course.


Professor Janata was named a 2010 Guggenheim Fellow, 2010-11 Fulbright Fellow, and was also awarded the 2010 Music Has Power Award from the Institute of Music and Neurological Function.