Dr, Professor Jörg Fachner

Professor of Music, Health and the Brain

Faculty:Faculty of Arts, Law & Social Sciences

Department:School of Performance

Location: Cambridge

Areas of Expertise: Music therapy

Jörg Fachner is Professor of Music, Health and the Brain. He's a specialist for translational issues of interdisciplinary research topics between medical, humanities and music sciences.

See Jörg's profiles on Loop and ResearchGate



For 20 years Jörg has been working as a professional in the field of music therapy research. He's trained as a social scientist, graduated as an educationalist in music therapy, and received his doctoral degree in medical science in 2001 by studying changes of neural correlates of consciousness (EEG) during music perception.

Research interests

Jörg was trained to use music therapy in special education, specialising in the treatment of adolescents and addiction. As a researcher at the University of Witten/Herdecke in Germany he was involved in sensory, posture and movement research at the Department of Physiology. Later, as Senior Research Fellow at the same university, he established a research service and music therapy online journal at the Chair for Qualitative Research in Medicine. Funded by FP6 of the EU and AOF as a senior researcher at the Finnish Centre of Excellence in Interdisciplinary Music Research at University of Jyvaskyla in Finland, he focused on music therapy interventions and brain responses on depression and stroke treatment.

Jörg's research interests, publications and scientific memberships focus on:

  • music therapy and its applications in healing cultures, modern medicine and special education
  • Kairological principles of music therapy processes and improvisation
  • music and the reward system in the brain
  • popular music culture and performance.

He has performed and recorded music widely as a guitarist, singer and Saz (Baglama) player.

Areas of research supervision

  • Music, therapy and the brain
  • Music and consciousness states
  • State dependent cognition and recall
  • Music therapy and addiction treatment


  • Dr rerum medicinalium (Doctor of Medical Sciences), Faculty of Medicine, University of Witten/Herdecke, Germany
  • Diplom Pädagoge (Master in Education), Faculty for Education and Biology, University of Dortmund, Germany

Memberships, editorial boards

  • German Association for the Study of Popular Music (GfPM)
  • International Association for Cannabinoid Medicine (founding member)
  • European Collegium for Consciousness Studies

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

Jörg has served as scientific advisor and board/committee member for several conferences (such as WFMT, ESCOM, ICME, ICMP, ECMT, NCMT), and reviewer for journals and publishers in the field of the music sciences (such as Music Perception, Musicae Scientae, Psychology of Music, Nordic Journal of Music Therapy, Music Therapy Perspectives, Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, Brain Sciences, Complementary Therapies in Medicine, Oxford University Press and Routledge).

Current associate editorship: Dialogues in music therapy and music neuroscience: collaborative understanding driving clinical advances.

Selected recent publications


Fachner, J. (2017). Retraining of Drug Reward, Music Cues and State-dependent Recall in Music Therapy. Music and Medicine, 9(1), 8-14

Fachner, J. (2017 in press). Music and healing processes: Music therapy. In R. Ashley & R. Timmers (Eds.), Routledge Companion to Music Cognition: Routledge

Fachner, J. (2017 in revision). Veränderte Bewusstseinszustände. In R. Kopiez & A. Lehmann (Eds.), Handbuch Musikpsychologie. Göttingen: Hogrefe

Odell-Miller, H., Fachner, J., & Erkkila, J. (2017 submitted). Music therapy clinical practice and research for people with depression: music, neuroscience and music therapy In Karkou (Ed.), Arts therapies in the treatment of depression: Routledge


Ghetti, C., Chen, X.-J., Fachner, J., & Gold, C. (2016). Music therapy for substance use disorders [Protocol]. Cochrane Databases of Systematic Reviews, 10. doi:10.1002/14651858.CDXXXXXX

Fachner, J. (2016). From assistance to co-therapy - On the role of the co-therapist in Nordoff/Robbins Music Therapy. In L. Strange, E. Richards, & H. Odell-Miller (Eds.), Assistants in Music therapy London: Jessica Kingsley

Fachner, J., & Wosch, T. (2016). Neurowissenschaftliche Aspekte der Musiktherapie bei affektiven Störungen und bei Demenz. Jahrbuch der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Musikpsychologie, 26, 1-17

O'Kelly, J., Fachner, J., & Tervaniemi, M. (2016). Dialogues in music therapy and music neuroscience: collaborative understanding driving clinical advances Vol. 10. Special topic edited for Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

O'Kelly, J., Fachner, J., & Tervaniemi, M. (2016, 22 Nov). Editorial: Dialogues in music therapy and music neuroscience: collaborative understanding driving clinical advances. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10-585. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00585

Fachner, J., O'Kelly, J., Lee, E., & Faber, S. (2016). Music therapy praxeology and the brain – neuroscientific perspectives for studying music therapy effects and processes. Nordic Journal of Music therapy, 25(S1), 88

Fachner, J., Erkkila, J., & Brabant, O. (2016). On musical identities, social pharmacology and intervention timing in music therapy. In D. Hargreaves, R. MacDonald, & D. Miell (Eds.), Musical Identities (pp. 682-700). Oxford: Oxford University Press

Fachner, J. (2016). Music therapy and biomarkers of depression treatment. Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on "Best practised models and research in music therapy: global perspectives", Center for Music Therapy Education and Research, Mahatma Gandhi Medical College & Research Institute Campus, SBV University, Pondicherry India

Ridder, H. M., & Fachner, J. (2016). Objectivist case study research. Single-subject and small-n research In B. Wheeler (Ed.), Music Therapy Research: Barcelona Publishers

Fachner, J. (2016). Measuring music and musical responses. In B. Wheeler (Ed.), Music Therapy Research (3 ed.): Barcelona Publishers

Fachner, J. (2016). The Future of Music Therapy Research in Neuroscience. In C. Dileo (Ed.), Envisioning the future of music therapy (pp. 133-139). Philadelphia: Temple University


Punkanen, M., Erkkilä, J., Ala-Ruona, E., Tervaniemi, M., Fachner, J., & Vanhala, M. (2015). Improvisaatiopohjainen yksilömusiikkiterapia masennuksen hoidossa: kontrolloitu, satunnaistettu tutkimus. Psykoterapia, 34(4), 289-298

Street., A. J., Magee., W. L., Odell-Miller, H., Bateman, A., & Fachner, J. (2015). Home-based Neurologic Music Therapy for Upper Limb Rehabilitation with Chronic Hemiparetic Stroke Patients - a Feasibility Study Protocol. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience, 9(480). doi:10.3389/fnhum.2015.00480

Ellison, D., Moisseinen, N., Fachner, J., & Brattico, E. (2015). Affective versus cognitive responses to musical chords: An ERP and behavioral study. Psychomusicology: Music, Mind, and Brain, 25(4), 423-434. doi:10.1037/pmu0000127

Hsu, M. H., Flowerdew, R., Parker, M., Fachner, J., & Odell-Miller, H. (2015). The impact of music therapy on managing neuropsychiatric symptoms for people with dementia and their carers: a randomised controlled feasibility study. BMC Geriatrics. 15(84). doi: 10.1186/s12877-015-0082-4


Schäfer, T., & Fachner, J. (2014). Listening to music reduces eye movements. Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 1-9. doi: 10.3758/s13414-014-0777-1

Fachner, J. (2014). Communicating change - meaningful moments, situated cognition and music therapy - a reply to North (2014). Psychology of Music, 42(6), 791-799. doi: 10.1177/0305735614547665

Fachner, J., Grocke, D., Hunt, A., Forsblom, A., Ala-Ruona, E., & Bonde, L. O. (2014). Music therapy, altered states, and imagery. In J. Fachner, P. Kern & G. Tucek (Eds.), Proceedings of the 14. World Congress of Music Therapy Special issue of Music Therapy Today (Vol. 10, pp. 246-247). Krems: Chair of Publications of the World Federation of Music Therapy

Hsu, M. H., Pendry, R., Odell-Miller, H., Fachner, J., & Parker, M. (2014). What a glorious feeling, I'm happy again: music therapy and dementia symptoms. In J. Fachner, P. Kern & G. Tucek (Eds.), Proceedings of the 14. World Congress of Music Therapy. Special issue of Music Therapy Today (eBook ed., Vol. 10, pp. 122-123). Krems: Chair of Publications of the World Federation of Music Therapy

Fachner, J. (2014). Music therapy and brain research: where are we heading? In J. Fachner, P. Kern & G. Tucek (Eds.), Proceedings of the 14. World Congress of Music Therapy. Special issue of Music Therapy Today (eBook ed., Vol. 10, pp. 88-89). Krems: Chair of Publications of the World Federation of Music Therapy. Retrieved from

Fachner, J., Kern, P., & Tucek, G. (2014). Editorial for the Proceedings of the 14. World Congress of Music Therapy Cultural Diversity in Music Therapy, Practice, Research, and Education In J. Fachner, P. Kern & G. Tucek (Eds.), Proceedings of the 14. World Congress of Music Therapy. Special issue of Music Therapy Today (Vol. 10, pp. 8-9). Krems: Chair of Publications of the World Federation of Music Therapy

O'Kelly, J., Magee, W., Street, A., Fachner, J., Drake, A., , Särkämö, T., . . . Taylor, D. B. (2014). Music Therapy Advances in Neuro-disability: Innovations in Research and Practice. Summary report on a two day International Conference. Voices - a world forum for music therapy, 12

Fachner, J., Kern, P., & Tucek, G. (2014). Proceedings of the 14th World Congress of Music Therapy. Special Issue of Music Therapy Today, 10(1)


O'Kelly, J., James, L., Palaniappan, R., Taborin, J., Fachner, J., & Magee, W. L. (2013). Neurophysiological and behavioral responses to music therapy in vegetative and minimally conscious states. Front. Hum. Neurosci., 7(884). doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2013.00884

Schäfer, T., Fachner, J., & Smukalla, M. (2013). Changes in the representation of space and time while listening to music. Front Psychol, 4(508). doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00508

Fachner, J., & Stegemann, T. (2013). Electroencephalography (EEG) and music therapy: On the same wavelength? Music & Medicine, 5(4), 217-222. doi: 10.1177/1943862113495062

Fachner, J., & Erkkilä , J. (2013). The Finnish research model of a music therapy practice treating depression. Musiktherapeutische Umschau, 34(1), 35–45

Gold, C., Fachner, J., & Erkkilä, J. (2013). Validity and reliability of electroencephalographic frontal alpha asymmetry and frontal midline theta as biomarkers for depression. Scand J Psychol, 54(2), 118-126. doi: 10.1111/sjop.12022

Fachner, J., Gold, C., & Erkkilä, J. (2013). Music therapy modulates fronto-temporal activity in the rest-EEG in depressed clients. Brain Topography, 26(2), 338-354. doi: 10.1007/s10548-012-0254-x

Recent presentations and conferences

Fachner, J., 2015. Biomarkers of the music therapy process and effectiveness in psychiatric and neurorehabilitation. Invited keynote presented at Music Therapy Advances in Neuro-disability II: dialogues in neuroscience, research and clinical practice, Royal Hospital for Neurodisability, , 12-13 June 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. Music therapy in the treatment of addiction (Musikterapi i behandling av drogmissbruk). Invited public lecture presented at the Open Seminar in Music Psychology Series, Department of Psychology, University of Uppsala, Sweden, 22 May 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. Addiction and reframing of reward processing in music therapy. Invited keynote presented at NORDISK INSPIRASJONS- OG ERFARINGSKONFERANSE: Musikkterapi – forebygging og behandling av rus og psykiske lidelser, University of Bergen, 4-5 May 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. Neuroscience and Music Therapy Research. Invited paper presented at the workshop Introducing Mobile Brain-Computer Interfaces to Music Research in Musicology, University of Cologne, Germany, 24 April 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. EEGIM - Neural correlates of consciousness during guided imagery in music. Paper presented at the 2nd International Conference on Music and Consciousness, University of Oxford, 14-17 April 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. The future of music therapy research in neuroscience. Invited paper presented at the Seventh Arts and Quality of Life Research Center Conference - Envisioning the Future of Music Therapy, Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, USA, 10 April 2015.

Fachner, J., 2015. International perspectives on the art and science of Music Therapy. Invited paper presented at the Music and Neuroscience Symposium, Dubai, World Trade Centre, 19 February 2015.