Roger Chaffin

Degree: Ph.D.  University of Illinois, 1976, Cognitive Psychology (minor in Linguistics)
Webpages: Music Lab
Research Interests: Music performance; memory; consciousness
Research Synopsis: My goal is to understand the cognitive processes involved in human communication, particularly musical performance. My longitudinal case studies of experienced musicians preparing for performance combine the third-person perspective of the scientist with the first-person perspective of the musician. Together with musician colleagues, I have shown how the principles of expert memory apply to the domain of music performance. In current work on the role of movement in music performance, my goal is to understand the role of spontaneity and creativity in highly prepared music performance.
Recent publications: Chaffin, R., Demos, A.P. & Logan, T. (2016). Performing from memory. In S. Hallam, I. Cross, & M. Thaut (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Music Psychologyx 2nd Ed. (pp. 359-371). Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Lisboa T., Chaffin R. & Demos A.P. (2015). Recording thoughts while memorizing music: a case study. Frontiers in Psychology. 1561(5).


Demos, A.P., Chaffin, R., & Kant, V. (2014). Toward a dynamical theory of body movement in musical performance. Frontiers in Psychology, 477(5).


Demos, A.P. & Chaffin, R (2014). W. Thompson, J. G. Golson (Eds).  Body movements. In W. Thompson (Ed.), Music in the social and behavioral sciences: An encyclopedia. (Vol. 2, pp. 145-148). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc. doi:

Representative Publications:
  1. Chaffin, R. Lisboa, T., Logan, T.,& Begosh, K.T. (2010). Preparing for memorized cello performance: The role of performance cues. Psychology of Music, 38, 3-3


  1. Demos, A.P., Chaffin, R., Begosh, K.T., Daniels, J.R. & Marsh, K.L. (2012). Rocking to the beat: Effects of music and partner’s movements on spontaneous interpersonal coordination. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 141, 49-53.


  1. Chaffin, R., Morris, R.K., & Seely, R.E. (2001).  Learning new word meanings from context: A study of eye movements.  Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, & Cognition, 27, 225-235.


  1. Chaffin, R. (1979). Knowledge of language and knowledge about the world: A reaction time study of invited and necessary inferences. Cognitive Science, 3, 55-80.