Courtney Hilton

Courtney Hilton's picture
Yale Agency Affiliates


BMus: Australian National University, Canberra, Australia (2014)

PhD: University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia (2021)

Research Overview

I study the psychological building blocks underlying how we perceive, produce, and experience music, and how music relates to language, health, and our broader sociality. I also develop ways for studying larger and more diverse groups of people with web-based citizen science. In one representative project, we collected speech and song recordings in 21 diverse societies in the context of infant-care interactions, then analyzed them acoustically, and studied how ~50,000 people from ~200 countries perceived these recordings. This led us to new insights about cross-culturally robust links between speech, song, and carer-infant communication.

Grant Support

NIH (DP5-OD024566), “Psychological functions of music in infancy”, S. Mehr, PI


Recent Publications

Hilton, C. B., Moser, C. J., Bertolo, M., Lee-Rubin, H., Bainbridge, C. M., Atwood, S., Simson, J., … Mehr, S. A. (2022). Acoustic regularities in infant-directed speech and song across cultures. Nature Human Behaviour.

Hilton, C. B., Crowley-de Thierry, L., Yan, R., Martin, A., & Mehr, S. A. (Accepted). Children infer the behavioral contexts of unfamiliar foreign songs. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General.

Hilton, C. B., & Goldwater, M. (2021). Linguistic syncopation: Meter-syntax alignment affects sentence comprehension and sensorimotor synchronization. Cognition.

Hilton, C. B., & Mehr, S. A. (2022). Citizen science can help to alleviate the generalizability crisis. Behavioral and Brain Sciences.

Liu, J., Hilton, C. B., Bergelson, E., & Mehr, S. A. (2021). Language experience shapes music processing across 40 tonal, pitch-accented, and non-tonal languages. bioRxiv

Link to NIH Reporter, Pubmed, Google scholar: