Diana Deutsch – “Study and research. It’s what you’re here for.”

By  //  August 16, 2023

Ever since the advent of humankind, it has been man’s nature to explore his surroundings. If it were not for man’s curious nature, technology would not have progressed to the advanced levels that exist today.

Research is what pushes mankind forward, fueled by curiosity. We get curious, ask questions, and immerse ourselves in discovering everything there is to know. It is the series of discoveries and step-by-step evolution of the human mind that has brought us to where we are, inciting us to propel still further.

Research has led to various innovations and discoveries related to technology, agriculture, business, education, and, most important, healthcare. As we appreciate the research carried out from the time of our ancestors, let us not forget to celebrate the countless efforts made by contemporary researchers.

One such researcher, Diana Deutsch, is a modern-day psychologist and is known widely for her remarkable research and discoveries in her own domain.
Diana was born to Max Sokol, a sculptor of the expressionist school, who profoundly influenced her. As a result of the endless discussions she had with her father in her childhood, she developed a strong connection between art, science, and philosophy. Her juvenile interest amplified, empowering her to obtain a First-Class Honors degree in Psychology, Philosophy, and Physiology in 1959.

During her time at Oxford, the lectures on philosophy by J.L. Austin, discussions on cognitive psychology with Stuart Sutherland, and visual illusions by Richard Gregory altogether left a profound impact on Diana. These impacts later encouraged her explicit skills to track down several illusions of music and speech related to sound perception and memory.

Her illusions portray the dissimilar perceptions of music by different individuals. These perceptions rely on a person’s language, dialect, and form of brain organization. They also show the importance of memory, knowledge, and expectancy in the perception of music and speech. Some of her groundbreaking illusions are the octave illusion, scale illusion, chromatic illusion, cambiata illusion, glissando illusion, and tritone paradox.

In addition, Diana discovered the Speech-to-Song Illusion. In this illusion, a spoken phrase is perceptually converted into a song, and this happens without transforming the sounds in any way or providing any context but simply by repeating the phrase several times over.

The illusion also points to a strong relationship between speech and music.

During her tenure, several museums have exhibited her audio illusions, including the Museum of Science (Boston), the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Exploratorium, the Franklin Institute, and the Museo Interactivo de Ciencia in Quito, Ecuador. Her illusions are also often exhibited at science festivals worldwide, including the USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C., the Edinburgh International Science Festival, the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin, and the Serralves Museum of Contemporary Art, Porto, Portugal.

In 1989, Diana co-founded the biennial International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition and served as co-chair of the Organizing Committee for its first conference. She founded the (American) Society for Music Perception and Cognition in 1990 and served as its Founding President from 1990 to 1992, holding the Second International Conference on Music Perception and Cognition in Los Angeles in 1992.

She founded the journal Music Perception in 1983 and served as its Founding Editor from 1983 to 1995. In addition, she combined research and theory in different disciplines in her revised book, The Psychology of Music, which became the standard handbook.

Her supremacy in her own area authorized her to publish a book in 2019 entitled Musical Illusions and Phantom Words: How Music and Speech Unlock Mysteries of the Brain.