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 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, Human Brain Mapping, SCAN, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognition, Scientific Reports 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 of the Research Council at Maastricht University. I was elected as President-Elect of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN) in 2014 and am the President of this Society until 2018. I also serve on the advisory boards of several research institutes involved in speech/language and communication research (Institute of 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 the Netherlands, Europe, the US, and Canada (NL: NOW; BL: FWO, FNRS; FR: ANR; GER (DFG), DK: DCIR; Israel: ISF; EU: FP7, ERC; USA: NSF, NIH, Canada: NSERC, CIHR, FQRSC; SSHRC; UK: MRC, BBSRC; ESRC, Leverhulme, Welcome Trust). I collaborate with leading experts in speech and language, music, and attention neuroscience. These experts include Prof. David Poeppel, NYU & 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. Aniruddh Patel, Tufts University; Prof. Robert Zatorre, Prof. Isabelle Peretz, and Prof. Simone Dalla Bella, International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), and Prof. Erich Schröger, University of Leipzig; Prof. István Winkler, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA).


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

  • Chronaki, G., Wigelsworth, M., Pell, M. D., & Kotz, S. A. (2018). The development of cross-cultural recognition of vocal emotion during childhood and adolescence. Sci Rep, 8(1), 8659.
  • Harding, E. E., Sammler, D., Henry, M. J., Large, E. W., & Kotz, S. A. (2018). Cortical tracking of rhythm in music and speech. Neuroimage, 185, 96-101.
  • 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.
  • Belyk, M., Johnson, J.F., Kotz, S.A. (2018). Poor neuro-motor tuning of the human larynx: Comparison of sung and whistled pitch imitation. Royal Society Open Science, 5: 171544.
  • 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.
  • Ravignani, A., Honing, H., & Kotz, S.A. (2017). The evolution of rhythm cognition: Timing in music and speech. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 11, 303. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2017.00303.
  • Verga, L. & Kotz, S.A. (2017). Help me if I can’t: Social interaction effects in contextual adult word learning. Cognition, 168, 76-90.
  • Frühholz, S., Trost, W.J., & Kotz, S.A. (2016).A unifying neural network model for affective sound processing. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews, 68, 68-96.
  • Kotz, S.A., Brown, R.M., & Schwartze, M. (2016). Cortico-striatal circuits and the timing of action and perception. Current Opinion in Behavioral 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.
  • Mestres-Misse, A., & Bazin, P-L., Trampel, R, Turner, R., & Kotz, S.A. (2014).
    Dorsomedial striatum involvement in regulating conflict between current and presumed outcomes. NeuroImage, 98, 159-167.

Awards & Academic Recognitions

  • 2015 – University of Manchester, UK: Honorary Professorship in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience
  • 2015 – Georgetown University, Washington D.C., USA: Research Fellow and Affiliate
  • 2010 – University of Leipzig, Germany: Honorary Professorship in Experimental Psychology
  • 2009 – Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany: Research Fellow
  • 2007 – Max Planck Society, Germany: “Excellence support for female scientists” Minerva Award (5yrs to run an independent research group)

Links to find out more about Sonja:


Google Scholar