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Virginia Penhune

Professor in the Department of Psychology at Concordia University and a founding member of the Montreal Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound (BRAMS)

Dr. Penhune received her BA degree in Philosophy from Wellesley College in 1981.  Upon realizing that the brain could be more fruitfully studied from the laboratory than from an armchair, she completed a PhD in Psychology at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University under the supervision of Dr. Michael Petrides.  Her doctoral research examined interhemispheric differences in the anatomy of auditory cortex and the neural basis of rhythm perception and production.  She then pursued a post-doctoral fellowship at Laval University with Dr. Julien Doyon focused on the neural basis of motor sequence learning.  Dr. Penhune joined the Department of Psychology at Concordia University in 2000.

The research in Dr. Penhune’s laboratory explores the neural basis of human motor skill learning and performance, with an emphasis on the impact of development and expertise.  She uses structural and functional neuroimaging techniques to examine the brain networks involved in learning, and to explore auditory-motor integration in the context of the perception and production of rhythm and melody.  This research program takes a broad developmental perspective, including studies in children and older adults, as well as individuals with musical training.  Important current lines of research include investigating the neural basis of auditory-motor interactions, the impact of early musical training on behaviour and brain structure, and transfer from music training to language skills. Her research on dance has focused on the impact of long-term dance training on brain structure and connectivity.

Work in Dr. Penhune’s lab is funded by both national and provincial agencies, including the National Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Research, the Canadian Foundation for Innovation, the Fonds de recherche du Québec and the Grammy Foundation.