Tanushree Agrawal is a PhD student in Psychology at UC San Diego. As a member of the Mind and Development Lab, run by Dr. Adena Schachner, she studies social and emotional aspects of music perception. Tanushree is particularly interested in why music is able to evoke incredibly strong emotional responses in listeners, and how such feelings may be prosocial in nature.
Her current research program involves understanding: (1) Moral consequences of music: Why does music motivate prosocial behavior? Does witnessing others’ capacity to experience music lead us to believe that they are higher moral beings with a greater capacity for intelligence or emotion? (2) Cultural evolution of music: How do people detect intentional social transmission, or copying/plagiarism, of melodies? (3) Ecological approaches to cross-modal auditory perception: Humans can tell the temperature of water just from hearing the sound of it being poured! How do we extract such nuanced meaning from everyday sounds?
Tanushree brings a diverse set of prior experiences to bear on her research. Her unconventional academic journey began at the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and a Bachelor of Science in Economics. She then worked as an Investment Analyst at Citi Private Bank in New York, before switching careers and obtaining a Masters in Musicology from the University of Oxford, where she studied the relationship between music and empathy. Prior to UCSD, she was a visiting scholar in the Music Cognition Lab as well as the Working Memory Lab at Louisiana State University.