PhD on Music listening for sleep

Leonardo is a PhD student at the Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research (CIMTR), Anglia Ruskin University, UK. He has been a research assistant at CIMTR for the last two years working as a heart rate data analyst for the RadioMe project: a radio for calming agitation in people with dementia (PwD) living at home.

In January 2024, Leonardo embarked his PhD journey to apply the X-System - a neuroscience based model of how our brains listen to sound - to create music playlists for going to sleep, specifically for caregivers and spouses of people with dementia.

Supervisors: Prof. Jorg Fachner, Dr. Alex Street, Prof. Nigel Osborne

Selected Scientific Publications

Fachner, J., Maidhof, C., Murtagh, D. et al. Music therapy, neural processing, and craving reduction: an RCT protocol for a mixed methods feasibility study in a Community Substance Misuse Treatment Service. Addict Sci Clin Pract 18, 36 (2023).

Di Campli San Vito, P., Yang, X., Brewster, S., et al. RadioMe: Adaptive Radio to Support People with Mild Dementia in Their Own Home. Frontiers in Artificial Intelligence and Applications, 413-415 (2023) 

Listen in class! Ecoutons en classe! 

Three-branch pilot study with primary children

Read the school's article on this study here

From the 9th of January to the 9th of February, Leonardo conducted an experiment on understanding the emotional, cognitive and fatigue influence of regularly listening to favourite music, guided meditation or reading, on primary children at school. 

Protocol overview: (n=38) Interventions were done on Tuesdays and Thursdays, at 8:30am, 11:00am & 1:45pm. The two audio interventions were matched as best as possible: the morning body-focused meditation was matched with a high danceability music, the 11:00am emotions-focused meditation was matched with an ambiguous danceability music, and finally the 1:45pm breathing-focused meditation was matched with a low danceability (or relaxing) music. Results: in progress, aimed to be finished in March.

En Francais

Écoutons en classe !

Lors de cette période scolaire (Jan-Fev 2024 ), les classes de CM1 C et CM1D de Mme Klinzig et Mr Moreau ont participé à une expérience scientifique qui cherche à comprendre l'influence de l'écoute musicale sur la performance académique, les émotions et la fatigue des élèves.

Lors des séances, les élèves étaient séparés en trois groupes : un groupe pour l’écoute musicale, un groupe pour la méditation de pleine conscience et enfin un groupe de lecture libre. Les résultats quantifiables de l'étude seront terminés en mars. Ce projet est en collaboration avec Claire Moreau qui a guidé les méditations et le chercheur en musicothérapie, Leonardo Muller-Rodriguez (étudiant PhD au Cambridge Institute for Music Therapy Research).

Reading Group

Primary students were told to read for 5 minutes at 8:30am, 11:00am & 1:45pm. The books were chosen by the students themselves.

Music Listening Group

Primary students were asked to give their favourite music, music they deem relaxing and energetic. The music scientist used Spotify musical metrics to choose among the provided songs to match the types of guided meditations.

Guided Meditation Group

Three types of guided meditation recorded by the expert meditation teacher (who works with adults and children) were provided at the same times of the other interventions

Theoretical Music Science

Leonardo has a strong interest in theories that help him better understand music in society. This has brought him to be up to date with Neuro-physics frameworks such as the Free Energy Principle, by Prof. Karl Friston, as well as Cymatics - the visual study of sound.

He has a Youtube channel where he shares in video formats his theoretical interests that aid his PhD journey.

Free Energy Principle / Active Inference

Most overarching mathematical model of organisms (agents) and their cells in an environment (ecology) - by Prof. Karl Friston


The science of the visualisation of sound vibrations such as Chladni plates and the Cymascope.

PhD student at CIMTR

Leonardo is a neuroscience and music therapy researcher as well as a composer.

Research interests



Curriculum Vitae

Leonardo Muller-Rodriguez is a trained neuro-imager in fMRI data using SPM12 (MSc, King’s College London) and EEG data using BrainVision Analyzer & Sleep Profiler (RA and PhD at CIMTR), as well as an active composer for films and video games (BA, Ravensbourne University).

He has also performed his songs at prestigious venues such as the V&A museum, French Institute, Purcell Room, Cadogan Hall, alongside musicians such as Michel Legrand, Jean-Jacques Goldman.

During his internship at the Psychoinformatics Lab (Datalad), Forschungszentrum Juelich, and his RA position at CIMTR, Leonardo has trained as a data scientist and software developer. As part of the RadioMe project, he has developed expertise in: 

As part of his PhD at CIMTR, he is trained to understand and use the X-System, and is conducting music information retrieval comparison between Spotify and X-System metrics.