Lab Director – Sonja A. Kotz

I hold a Chair in Neuropsychology and Translational Cognitive Neuroscience at the Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience (FPN), Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology (NP&PP) at Maastricht University, the Netherlands. I serve as a board member and senior editor of major journals (Neuroimage, Cortex, PLoS ONE, Time & Time Perception) and actively review for all top journals in my fields of research (Nature, Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Communications, PNAS, Neuron, Current Biology, Journal of Neuroscience, Cerebral Cortex, Neuroimage etc.). Since starting my current post in the Netherlands in 2015, I commenced serving on research review panels of the Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO) and am a board member and current Chair of the Research Council of FPN at Maastricht University. I was the President of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN) from 2016-2018 and am the current President of the Society for the Neurobiology of Language. I am an elected advisory board member of several European research institutes involved in cognitive and translational neuroscience (Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), Genova, Italy; Language Communication and the Brain (ILCB) and Brain & Language Research Institute (BLRI) LPL-CNRS & Université d’Aix-Marseille, France; ISCTE, Lisbon). In addition, I review grant applications for almost all major research funding bodies in Europe, North Americal, and Australia. I collaborate with leading experts in speech, music, and attention neuroscience. These include nationally: Prof. Rainer Goebel, Prof. Elia Formisano, Dr. Federico De Martino, Prof. Alexander Sack, Prof. Yasin Temel, Dr. Mark Janssen, Prof. David Linden, all Maastricht University; internationally: Prof. David Poeppel, NYU & Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics; Dr. Molly Henry, Max-Planck-Institute for Empirical Aesthetics; Prof. Sophie Scott, UCL; Prof. Pascal Belin, Aix-Marseille University; Prof. Hugo Merchant, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de México (UNAM); Prof. Josef Rauschecker, Georgetown University; Prof. Robert Zatorre & Prof. Simone Dalla Bella, International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS); Prof. Erich Schröger, University of Leipzig; Prof. István Winkler, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA); Dr. Nelson-Trujillo-Barreto, University of Manchester; Prof. Wael El-Deredy, Universidad de Valparaiso.

Links to find out more about Sonja:


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My scientific career has unfolded in three phases: (1) With modern neuroimaging techniques (M/EEG, f/sMRI, TMS), I started a program at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany in 1996, investigating how predictive cues (temporal, formal, and emotional) facilitate the perception and cognition of verbal and nonverbal speech, language, communication, and music in healthy and clinical populations (e.g., Schirmer & Kotz, 2006; Kotz & Schwartze, 2010; Stahl, Kotz et al., 2011) (2) At the University of Manchester, UK (2012-2015), I extended this research to the analyses of neural oscillation and computational modeling to understand (i) how learning mechanisms apply to speech, language, and music (e.g. Mestres-Misse et al., 2016, 2017; Verga et al., 2015), and (ii) which neural mechanisms underlie the facilitatory effects of music, rhythm, and social interaction in learning (e.g. Schwartze & Kotz, 2013; Verga & Kotz, 2017). (3) At Maastricht University (since 2015), I continue (i) to specify the neural network interface(s) of fronto-striatal and cortico-cerebellar circuitries involved in uni- and multimodal processing and (re-)learning, with a particular focus on temporal, rhythmic, and emotional stimulus properties and contexts, (ii) with animal models (rodent (Temel, Jansen @UM), macaque monkey (Merchant, Mexico)) and lesion-symptom mapping, I substantiate the relative contribution of specific brain regions (e.g. thalamus, supplementary motor area, posterior superior temporal gyrus) to uni- and multimodal processing and integration, and (iii) by means of translational and intervention models, we develop neuromodulatory therapies in persons with Parkinson’s disease, subcortical stroke, tinnitus, and first incidence psychosis (e.g. Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS), rhythmic cueing, gaming; Nozaradan et al., 2017; Dalla Bella et al., 2017; Verga & Kotz, in review).


  • Cognitive, Affective, & Translational Neuroscience
  • Verbal and non-verbal (social) communication
  • Time and rhythm perception
  • Predictive coding in auditory, visual, and multimodal emotion perception
  • Cognitive and affective control
  • Learning and neuroplasticity


  • s/fMRI (3 and 7T); Parcellation, VBM, Lesion-Symptom Mapping, Connectivity,
    Multivariate pattern classification
  • M/EEG and TFA
  • Integration of neuroimaging methods (EEG/fMRI; EEG/Lesion mapping)

Qualifications and Professional Experience

  • 2015 – Chair in Neuropsychology and Translational Cognitive Neuroscience; Head of Section: Neuropsychology, Department of Neuropsychology and Psychopharmacology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands
  • 2014 – 2017 Research Associate; Université de Montpellier, EUROMOV, Movement to Health (M2H) lab, Montpellier, France
  • 2013 – 2015 Head of Section: Cognitive Neuroscience & Experimental Psychology, School of Psychological Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United
  • 2012 – 2015 Chair in Cognitive and Affective Neurosciences, School of Psychological
    Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester, United Kingdom
  • 2006 – University of Leipzig, Germany: Doctor rerum naturalium habilitatus (Psychology)
  • 1996 – 2016 Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Leipzig,
    -2012 – 2016: Research Professor
    -2007 – 2011: Max Planck Minerva Professor
    -2000 – 2006: Tenured Senior Research Scientist
    -1996 – 2000: Research Scientist
  • 1996 – Current University of Leipzig, Faculty of Biological Sciences, Pharmacy and
    Psychology, Leipzig, Germany:
    -2010 – Current: Honorary Professor
    -1996 – 2009: Reader
  • 1996 – Tufts University, USA: Ph.D. (Experimental Psychology/Neuropsychology)
  • 1992 – Tufts University, USA: M.Sc. (Experimental Psychology/Neuropsychology)
  • 1986 – University of Tübingen, Germany: M.A. (Psycholinguistics, Literary and Political Sciences)

Selected Publications

  • Pinheiro, A.P., Schwartze, M., Gutierrez-Dominguez, F. & Kotz, S.A. (2020). Real and imagined sensory feedback have comparable effects on action anticipation. Cortex, 130, 290-301.
  • Johnson, J.F., Belyk, M., Schwartze, M., Pinheiro, A.P., & Kotz, S.A. (2019). The role of the cerebellum in adaptation: ALE meta-analyses on sensory feedback error. Human Brain Mapping, 40(13), 3966-3981. doi: 10.1002/hbm.24681.
  • Harding, E. E., Sammler, D., Henry, M. J., Large, E. W., & Kotz, S. A.(2019). Cortical tracking of rhythm in music and speech. Neuroimage, 185, 96-101.
  • Tavano, A., Schröger, E., & Kotz, S.A. (2019). Beta power encodes contextual estimates of temporal event probability in the human brain. PloS one, 14(9), e0222420.
  • Kotz, S. A., Ravignani, A., & Fitch, W. T. (2018). The Evolution of Rhythm Processing. Trends Cogn Sci, 22(10), 896-910.
  • Pinheiro, A. P., Schwartze, M., & Kotz, S. A.(2018). Voice-selective prediction alterations in nonclinical voice hearers. Sci Rep, 8(1), 14717.
  • Dalla Bella, S., Benoit, C.-E., Farrugia, N., Keller, P., Obrig, H., Mainka, S., Kotz, S.A. (2017). Gait improvement via rhythmic stimulation in Parkinson’s disease is linked to rhythmic skills. Scientific Reports, 7: 42005. doi:10.1038/srep42005 (2017).
  • Kotz, S.A., Brown, R.M., & Schwartze, M. (2016). Cortico-striatal circuits and the timing of action and perception. Current Opinion inBehavioral Sciences, 8, 42-45.
  • Kotz, S.A. & Schwartze, M. (2016). Motor timing and sequencing in speech production: A general purpose framework. In: Hickock, G.S., & Small, S.L. (eds.). Neurobiology of Language, pp.717-723.
  • Kotz, S.A. & Schmidt-Kassow, M. (2015). Basal ganglia contribution to rule expectancy and temporal predictability in speech. Cortex, 68, 48-60.
  • Kotz, S.A., Stockert, A., & Schwartze, M. (2014).Cerebellum, temporal predictability, and the updating of a mental model. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 369(1658): 20130403.

Awards & Academic Recognitions

  • 2019 – 2021 Fellowship of the Comisión Nacional de Investigación Científica y Tecnológica de Chile (CONICYT) – PCI Programa de Cooperación I Internacional, Universidad de Valparaíso, Chile
  • 2017 – 2019 Visiting Professor in Neuroscience and Psychology, University of Glasgow, Institute of Neuroscience and Psychology, UK
  • 2018 – Honorary Professor, Faculty of Psychology, University of Lisbon (FPUL), Portugal
  • 2015 – Honorary Chair in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, Division of Neuroscience and Experimental Psychology, University of Manchester, UK
  • 2015 – Research Fellow, Georgetown University, Department of Neuroscience, Laboratory of Integrative Neuroscience and Cognition, Washington D.C., USA
  • 2010 – Honorary Professor in Experimental Psychology, University of Leipzig, Germany
  • 2007 – 2012 Max Planck Society Minerva Award: “Excellence Support for Female Scientists”
  • 1996 Dissertation Award, Dean of the Graduate School, Tufts University, USA
  • 1989 – 1996 Conference Award, Dean of the Graduate School and Department of Psychology, Tufts University, USA
  • 1988 – 1996 Ph.D. Fellowship, Dean of the Graduate School, Tufts University, USA