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Honorary Research Fellow in the Department of Music  


Liila Taruffi is Lecturer in Music Psychology and Musicology in the Department of Music of Durham University. For her undergraduate and Masters degrees, Liila studied Theoretical Philosophy and Aesthetics at the University of Florence (Italy). She then obtained an MSc in Music, Mind & Brain (Music Psychology) from Goldsmiths, University of London (UK), and a PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience of Music from the Free University of Berlin (Germany), where she was affiliated with the Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion”. Her doctoral work examined emotional and cognitive experiences evoked by sad-sounding music, addressing the supposed paradox of why people deliberately choose to listen to sad music given that sadness is inherently a negative emotion usually avoided in everyday life. Before joining Durham University, Liila was a Postdoctoral HONORS Fellow in the Health Psychology Division of the Free University of Berlin, working on a mobile experience sampling project about the relationship between music, thought, and well-being. 

Liila’s research is placed at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and aesthetics. She investigates music’s capability to evoke emotions and moods and to influence a specific type of thoughts and visual mental images referred to as “mind-wandering”. Ultimately, her research is driven by the goal of practical applications of music to help maximize the beneficial outcome of mind-wandering and overcome its detrimental aspects. Other research interests range over visual mental imagery, empathic responses to music, creativity, music & well-being, and alexithymia. Liila uses the tools of affective and cognitive psychology as well as neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI. She also employs ecologically valid methodologies, such as mobile experience sampling in daily life, psychophysiology, and analysis of qualitative data.


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