Job title: Personal Chair of Music Psychology

Role: International Exchange Coordinator; Director of the Music in Human and Social Development Research Group

Tel: +44 (0)131 650 8248


Office address: Alison House, Room G.03

Contact time: Tue, 2-4 pm

Research outputs: Prof Katie Overy on Edinburgh Research Explorer

Katie Overy graduated from the University of Edinburgh Faculty of Music in 1995 and went on to study the psychology of music with Eric Clarke at the University of Sheffield. Her doctoral research examined dyslexic children's difficulties with musical timing and the potential of rhythm-based music lessons to support dyslexic children's language and literacy skills.

While writing her doctoral thesis, Katie spent nine months at the Zoltan Kodály Pedagogical Institute of Music, Hungary, studying the Kodály approach to music education. Subsequently, she spent two years as a postdoctoral researcher with Gottfried Schlaug at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School, learning fMRI techniques and collaborating on various neuroimaging studies of musical processing.

After returning to the University of Edinburgh in 2004, she worked with Nigel Osborne and Peter Nelson to establish the interdisciplinary Music in Human and Social Development Research Group.


Director of Research, Music

Director, Music in Human and Social Development Research Group

Selected Grants

  • 2019  ESRC: Musical Experience and Healthy Ageing 
  • 2018  ESRC: Musical Activities Programme for Dyslexic Children
  • 2016  The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Government: Music and Dementia
  • 2014  The Carnegie Trust: Scottish Music and Health Network (SMHN)
  • 2012  Royal Society of Edinburgh: Small Research Grant
  • 2012  University of Edinburgh CHSS: Challenge Award
  • 2011  EC PF7 People (IEF): 'Music Moves'
  • 2010  EC PF7 People (ITN): 'EBRAMUS: Europe, Brain and Music'
  • 2010  Scottish Arts Council: 'Inspiring Change' Evaluation
  • 2009  EC Comenius Programme: 'European Music Portfolio' 
  • 2008  The Grammy Foundation: Music and emotion in individuals with ASD
  • 2008  University of Edinburgh CHSS KT Office: CPD teacher training workshops
  • 2006  AHRC: Essay on the Value of Music Research to Life in the UK 
  • 2002  Harold Wingate Foundation: fMRI music research with young children

Public Engagement

  • 2018  BBC World Service, World Hacks (Interview)
  • 2018  BBC News Online (Interview)
  • 2016  Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC Radio)(Interview)
  • 2016  Health, Foreign/ (NZ)(Comment)
  • 2014  The Globe and Mail, Canada (Comment)
  • 2013  Happy Birthday Danny Boy, Independent Documentary Film (Interview)
  • 2013  Call Kaye, Radio Scotland (Interview)
  • 2013  Singing can help with Foreign Language Learning, The Telegraph online (Interview)
  • 2012  Lost and Sound, Independent Documentary Film (Interview)
  • 2011  Twinkle, Twinkle, The Telegraph online (Interview)
  • 2011  Reel Science, Music Neuroscience, Edinburgh International Film Festival (Curator)
  • 2010  Conversations: Midori, Edinburgh International Festival (Interview)
  • 2009  Woman’s Hour, BBC Radio 4 (Interview)
  • 2009  In Tune, BBC Radio 3 (Interview)
  • 2008  Mapping The Mind, BBC Radio Scotland (Interview)
  • 2008  Oliver Sacks: Tales of Music and the Brain, Imagine, BBC 1 (Consultant)
  • 2006  The Colour of Sound, Independent Documentary Film (Consultant)
  • 2006  Times Educational Supplement (Interview)
  • 2004  The Musical Brain, BBC Music Magazine (Interview)
  • 2003  Society for Neuroscience Press Conference (Panel member)
  • 2002  BBC Radio Sheffield (Interview)

External Committees

  • British Dyslexia Association Music Committee
  • The Neurosciences and Music Scientific Committee 

Conference and Workshop Organisation

  • 2019  IMHSD Workshops on the Diverse Musical Brain (5 workshops)
  • 2019  BBC Music Day: Ageing, Dementia and Music workshop with SCO, Edinburgh
  • 2015  Musical Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL): Launch Event, UWO, Canada
  • 2015  SMHN: Developing Research on Music and Health, Univ. of Edinburgh
  • 2015  MLAL: Retreat, Windemere Manor Hotel, UWO, London, Canada
  • 2014  MLAL: Retreat, Ivey Spencer Leadership Centre, UWO, London, Canada
  • 2014  SMHN: Mapping the Future for Music and Health Research in Scotland
  • 2013  EBRAMUS Workshop on Music in the Rehabilitation of Memory and Learning, Univ. of Lille
  • 2012  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Hearing, Seeing and Imagining, Herstmonceux Castle
  • 2012  Perspectives on Rhythm and Timing (PoRT), University of Glasgow
  • 2012  Approaches to Rhythm and Timing in Scotland Today (ARTiST), University of Edinburgh
  • 2011  The Neurosciences and Music IV: Learning and Memory, University of Edinburgh
  • 2010  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Music, Pattern and Mathematics, Herstmonceux Castle
  • 2010  Robert Schumann: the Man, the Mind, the Music, London
  • 2009  The Nash Ensemble and the Musical Brain, London
  • 2008  IMHSD Conference: Dance, Timing and Musical Gesture, University of Edinburgh
  • 2007  IMHSD Summer Workshop on Music, Language and Movement, Herstmonceux Castle
  • 2006  Music and Disability, St. Cecilia's Hall, University of Edinburgh
  • 2006  IMHSD Conference: Rhythm, Time and Temporal Organisation, University of Edinburgh
  • 2005  IMHSD Colloquium: Interactive Minds, University of Edinburgh

Current Courses

  • The Kodály Approach to Music Education (Course Organiser)
  • Research Methods in Music (Course Organiser)
  • The Musical Brain (Course Organiser) (starting in 2022/23)
  • Music 1A: Psychology of Music (Lecturer)

Previous Courses

  • Music, Mind and Body A: Physiology and Neuroscience (Course Organiser)(PG)
  • Music, Mind and Body B: Psychology and Sociology (Course Organiser)(PG)
  • Research Methods B (Course Organiser)(PG)
  • Creative and Professional Development A (Course Organiser)(PG)
  • Creative and Professional Development B (Course Organiser)(PG)
  • Musicianship 1 (Course Organiser)


  • Music - BMus (Hons)
  • Music - MA
  • Music - PhD/MSc by Research

My core research interest is musical learning, which I explore from the perspectives of music psychology, music pedagogy and music neuroscience. I am particularly interested in the positive effects of musical experience and in bridging the gap between research and practice in our understanding of how music can support individuals with diagnoses such as dyslexia, aphasia, autism and dementia. To date I have supervised fourteen PhD theses on topics such as music in foreign language learning, music in prison education and music for cochlear implant users. In 2019 I was one of eight UK academics shortlisted for the Times Higher Education Outstanding Research Supervisor of the year. 

My own research focuses on musical rhythm and I have co-edited several interdisciplinary special issues on the topic of the musical, rhythmic brain, including for Transactions of the Royal Society B (2015), Cortex (2009) and Contemporary Music Review (2009). My first academic publication in 1998, “Can music really improve the mind?” was one of six papers selected for reprint in the Psychology of Music 40th Anniversary Commemorative Collection (2012).

I was the UK partner in the EC Marie Curie International Training Network EBRAMUS (Europe, Brain and Music) and from 2014-5 I was a Visiting Professor in Music Education at Western University, Canada, where I led the development of Musical Learning Across the Lifespan (MLAL), a new initiative bringing together researchers from the Don Wright Faculty of Music and the Brain and Mind Institute, leading to the current Music, Cognition and the Brain initiative.

Current PhD students

PhD Supervision Topics

Accepting applications.

  • Musical Learning and Development

  • Music and Movement

  • Music, Language and Singing

  • Rhythm Perception and Production

  • The Kodály Approach to Music Education

  • Dyslexia, Autism, Aphasia and Dementia

  • fMRI and DTI methods in Music research