Dr. Tudor Popescu, DPhil (Oxon)

My research is primarily about music in the brain. I seek a multifold approach in understanding how the building blocks of music (at the neurophysiological, perceptual, and music-theoretical level) get to be integrated within individuals into the seamless process we call music; and how this process acquires new properties when one takes a step back and examines music's transformation across evolutionary time and across human cultures.

I am an interdisciplinary academic, having completed degrees in Experimental Psychology (PhD, Oxford Univ.), Psychophysics (MSc, Durham Univ.), and Electronic Engineering and Information Technology (BSc, 'Politehnica' Bucharest). I am currently a postdoc in the Department of Cognitive Biology at the University of Vienna. My current work focuses on the music/language interface, specifically on the neuronal resources recruited by the processing of musical and linguistic syntax, and the long-standing question of their domain-specificity and/or -generality.

Within (and adjacent to) music cognition, I am further interested in: musical imagery; music-poetry parallels; musically-induced emotion; the social function, cultural transmission, and evolutionary origin of music; and in how musical structure – both vertical (consonance and harmony) and horizontal (tonality and musical form) – is encoded in the brain. 

I have a strong interest in statistics and methodology, and for my neuroimaging research I employ, among others: MRI (functional, structural, diffusion, and classification-based), near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS), and non-invasive brain-stimulation (mainly TMS and tDCS).

Research publications

  1. Popescu T., Fitch W.T. (2019). Dynamic hierarchical cognition: Music and language demand further types of abstracta. Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  2. Fitch W.T., Popescu T. (2019). The world in a song. Science
  3. Popescu T., Cohen Kadosh R. (2019). Drawing the boundaries of expertise: who is a mathematician? Cortex
  4. Popescu T., Pascale M., Bravo F., Neuwirth M., Moss F., Boneh O., Mende W., Rohrmeier M. (2019). The pleasantness of sensory dissonance is mediated by musical style and expertise. Nature Scientific Reports
  5. Popescu T., Sader E., Thomas A., Terhune D., Cohen Kadosh R. (2018). The brain-structural correlates of mathematical expertise. Cortex
  6. Witek M., Popescu T., Clarke E., Hansen M., Kringelbach M. & Vuust, P. (2016).  Syncopation affects free body-movement in musical groove. Experimental Brain Research
  7. Popescu T., Krause B., Terhune D.B., Twose O., Page T., Humphreys G., Cohen Kadosh R. (2015). Transcranial random noise stimulation mitigates increased difficulty in an arithmetic learning task. Neuropsychologia
  8. Snowball A., Tachtsidis I., Popescu T., Thompson J., Delazer M., Zamarian L., Cohen Kadosh R. (2013). Long-term enhancement of brain function and cognition using cognitive  training and brain stimulation. Current Biology
  9. Terhune D. B., Tai S., Cowey A., Popescu T., & Cohen Kadosh R. (2011). Enhanced cortical excitability in grapheme-color synesthesia and its modulation. Current Biology
  10.  Cohen Kadosh R., Bahrami B., Walsh V., Butterworth B., Popescu T., & Price C. J. (2011). Specialization in the human brain: the case of numbers. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience