Samuel Mehr

Samuel Mehr's picture
Senior Scientist, Haskins Laboratories and Senior Lecturer, University of Auckland



EdD Human Development, Harvard University, 2017

EdM Human Development, Harvard University, 2014

BM Music Education, Eastman School of Music, 2010

Research Overview

Samuel Mehr joined Haskins Laboratories in 2022 as a Senior Scientist. He directs The Music Lab, an international research group focusing on the psychology of music. Mehr’s research draws on ideas and tools from cognitive and developmental psychology, data science, and evolutionary anthropology, to ask what music is, how music works, and why music exists.

The Music Lab was established in 2017 at Harvard University’s Department of Psychology, with funding from the NIH Director’s Early Independence Award and the Harvard Data Science Initiative, and moved to Haskins in 2022. In addition to more traditional experimental work, the lab specializes in large-scale citizen science experiments. You can participate at


Grant Support

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


Recent Publications

*indicates advisees

^indicates equal contribution

^*Hilton, C. B., ^*Crowley-de Thierry, L., *Yan, R., Martin, A, & Mehr, S. A. (2022) Children infer the behavioral contexts of unfamiliar foreign songsJournal of Experimental Psychology: General.

^*Hilton, C. B., ^*Moser, C., *Bertolo, M., *Lee-Rubin, H., Amir, D., *Bainbridge, C. M., *Simson, J., Knox, D., Glowacki, L., Alemu, E., Galbarczyk, A., Jasienska, G., Ross, C. T., Neff, M. B., Martin, A., Cirelli, L. K., Trehub, S. E., Song, J., Kim, M., Schachner, A., Vardy, T. A., Atkinson, Q. D., Salenius, A., Andelin, J., Antfolk, J., Madhivanan, P., Siddaiah, A., Placek, C. D., Salali, G. D., Keestra, S., Singh, M., Collins, S. A., Patton, J. Q., Scaff, C., Stieglitz, J., Ccari Cutipa, S., Moya, C., Sagar, R. R., Anyawire, M., Mabulla, A., Wood, B. M., Krasnow, M. M., & Mehr, S. A. (2022). Acoustic regularities in infant-directed speech and song across culturesNature Human Behaviour.

^*Bainbridge, C. M., ^*Bertolo, M., *Youngers, J., *Atwood, S., *Yurdum, L., *Simson, J., *Lopez, K., *Xing, F., Martin, A., & Mehr, S. A. (2021). Infants relax in response to unfamiliar foreign lullabiesNature Human Behaviour, 5, 256-264.

Mehr, S. A., Singh, M., Knox, D., Ketter, D. M., Pickens-Jones, D., *Atwood, S., Lucas, C., *Egner, A., Jacoby, N., *Hopkins, E. J., *Howard, R. M., Hartshorne, J. K., Jennings, M. V., *Simson, J., *Bainbridge, C. M., Pinker, S., O’Donnell, T. J., Krasnow, M. M., & Glowacki, L. (2019). Universality and diversity in human songScience, 366, eaax0868:1-17

Mehr, S. A., *Song, L. A., & Spelke, E. S. (2016). For 5-month-old infants, melodies are socialPsychological Science, 27(4), 486–501.

 Link to NIH Reporter, Pubmed, Google scholar, etc.