A garden like arrangement of glowing soft corals in a dark tank at the Cairns Aquarium.
Photo: David Clode


Music can influence humans in various ways. It is part of the cultural practice and also embedded in social context. On the individual level, the brain is the crucial organ to experience music. Research on the neurobiology of music is surprisingly sparse, however, and respective insights have rarely fed back into musicology. At the same time, the market for music fostering sleep and relaxation rises, often deriving from individual research by sound artists bringing together musical best practice examples with likes and pleasure of the aspired audience.

In the Lullabyte project, researchers from highly remote scientific disciplines – musicology, neuroscience, computer science, and acoustics – and interdisciplinary PhD students combine their respective expertise for the first time in order to follow the question on how musical features and sleep quality relate. The aim is to generate novel insights into the neurobiology of music using computational principles to analyze effects of different kinds of musical structures on brain and behavior, and use the results as a basis to generate novel pieces of music that may individually help to enhance sleep.

In all cultures and during all times, the sedating or trophotrope effects of lullabies have been used to soothe children – or adults – to sleep. While some empirical studies generally support such ‘somnogenic’ effects of music, surprisingly little is known about which kinds of music and which musical structures have the strongest effect on sleep. Hence, lullabies serve as a starting point for our research.

MSCA Doctoral Network ”Lullabyte‟

Originating from the Die Junge Akademie project, recently a trans-European Doctoral Network was funded by the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions. The Lullabyte network which starts in November 1st, 2022, will train a group of 10 interdisciplinary doctoral candidates in the fields musicology, neuroscience/psychology, and computer science in order to develop strong and intersectorally applicable research skills in empirical research on the effects of music and sound on sleep.


Akkermann M, Akkaya UC, Demirel C, Pflüger D, Dresler M. Sound sleep: lullabies as a test case for the neurobiological effects of music. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 2021, 44: e96. (


participating Alumnae / Alumni