New European research project, involving UPF, to investigate the effects of music on sleep

The European research project Lullabyte is driven by a consortium of 10 European universities and research centres, coordinated by the University of Dresden. The Music Technology Group (MTG) of the UPF Department of Information and Communication Technologies (DTIC) is a participant. Based on the results of the research, new products will be developed such as interactive headphones or music applications to sleep, adapted to the needs of each user.

Music has always been used for its calming qualities, but there is still little scientific understanding of how it affects the brain before and during sleep and which musical qualities are particularly effective from both a subjective and an objective perspective in inducing it.

Thus, a consortium of 10 European universities and research centres, including UPF, has decided to launch a research project to analyse how music influences sleep taking into account the profiles and needs of each individual and making use of AI-based machine learning. It is the project Lullabyte , a fusion of Lullaby and byte.

The Technische Universität Dresden (TU Dresden, Germany) is coordinating the consortium of universities and research and transfer centres driving the recently launched Lullabyte project, which will run until the end of 2026. Lullabyte will also train a new generation of interdisciplinary researchers with international experience in this area of research, who will acquire relevant competences for research, industry and the cultural sector. Up to 10 doctoral students, one for each of the universities and member centres of the consortium, will be participat in the project over the coming four years. It will be conducted within the framework of the Marie Curie (MSCA) doctoral network, funded by the Horizon Europe programme with 2,468,844 euros.

An interdisciplinary research project, in which musicology, neuroscience, sleep research

computer science converge

Lullabyte focuses on a field of research that has been underexplored to date by both musicology and neuroscience. Musicology has traditionally focused on the study of musical structures, cultural practices, or historical contexts. Meanwhile, empirical neuroscience has so far only sparsely examined musical structures. What the Lullabyte project does precisely is to unite these disciplines, together with others -such as sleep research, computer science, psychology and data sciencein order to develop radically interdisciplinary research that helps us understand how music helps us fall asleep and sleep better.

Driven by a consortium of 10 European universities

In addition to TU Dresden, the project coordinator, and UPF, the only university participating from Catalonia and indeed Spain, the rest of the members of the Lullabyte consortium are: the Medical Centre of Radboud University in the Netherlands, the University of Stuttgart, Germany, the University of Aarhus in Denmark, the FEMTO-ST Institute, and the Paris Brain Institute in France, the Royal Institute of Technology Sweden, the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, and the Berlin-based startup Endel. It also enjoys the collaboration of several companies from all over Europe, innovators in the fields of research related to Lullabyte.

At each of these centres, participating PhD students will investigate the effects of music on sleep in very different settings and from different points of view. For example, they will examine neurophysiological details of auditory processing in the brain or changes in sleep structure induced by different types of music, as well as perform psychological and musicological analyses. Although they will be attached to a university, students will also make stays at other centres of the Lullabyte consortium.

UPF to investigate the effects of interactive sonification on sleep induction

At UPF, the effects of sonification images in sleep induction and quality. Essentially, sonification is the process that allows generating sounds from data. Specifically, the researchers will examine the potential effects of sound stimulation on brain waves during sleep and explore how music helps the brain relax, induce asleep and improve sleep quality.

Sergi Jordą (Music Technology Group of DTIC-UPF) explains that the project will allow "developing interactive applications to treat insomnia without the need for drugs" At UPF, the project is undertaken by the Music Technology Group (MTG) of the Department of Information and Communication Technologies. Its principal investigator is Sergi Jordą of the MTG.

Sergi Jordą ( MTG) assures that this is the first time that something that humanity has practised empirically for millennia, the potential somnogenic properties of music, has been approached in a strictly scientific and fully interdisciplinary way, combining the experience of psychologists, neuroscientists specialized in sleep, musicologists, experts in music technology and artificial intelligence. "The resulting systematic knowledge will allow, for example, developing interactive applications to treat insomnia without the need for drugs. The MTG will contribute its experience in sound synthesis and perception and machine learning, to synthesize in real time, and based on electroencephalography (EEG) signals, music with somnogenic and relaxing effects" -the principal investigator of the project explains.

It is envisaged to offer new personalized music projects to induce sleep and improve its quality

To develop the project research, large datasets on sound Machine learning strategies will help algorithmically generate this new music with particularly strong sleep-inducing effects. One of the objectives of the project is to offer the market new, personalized music products for this purpose, based on data and with a solid scientific basis.

The project officially kicked off at the presentation that took place in Frankfurt on 3 and 4 February. In the case of UPF, people who wish to apply to become Lullabyte doctoral students can submit their candidatures until 31 March.

Further information on the section of the UPF website on research to be conducted at the University in the framework of this project.