Music as Biology: What We Like to Hear and Why

Dales Purves, who has twice taught his open online course Visual Perception and the Brain, developed this four-week course on the relationship between music and the brain. The course explores the tone combinations that humans consider consonant or dissonant, the scales we use, and the emotions music elicits, all of which provide a rich set of data for exploring music and auditory aesthetics in a biological framework. The subject has broad appeal to those interested in understanding aesthetics in neurobiological terms and highlights Purves’ unique interdisciplinary approach to neuroscience.

The course features video of performances by musicians visiting Duke to help demonstrate different concepts covered in the course.


Dale Purves

Dale Purves


  • Duke Institute for Brain Sciences

Project Use:


Launch Date:

  • January 2016

View the project