Research Interests

I have several lines of research in the field of auditory cognitive neuroscience, including the association between music and speech, speech perception and production, and auditory scene analysis.


My main line of research focuses on the association between music and speech in the brain. I see this relationship as a window into understanding brain organization and plasticity. I am particularly interested in exploring how pitch processing experience in musicians and tone language speakers is related to benefits in perceptual and cognitive processing. I have studied populations including professional musicians, tone-language speakers, and people with perfect pitch. My methodologies include electroencephalography (EEG) to capture linear and nonlinear dependencies in the data, as well as psychophysical and cognitive testing.

Vocal perception and production

In collaboration with Dr. Sean Hutchins, Director of Research at the Royal Conservatory of Music, I have studied the dissociation between vocal production and perception in professional singers versus non-singers. Studying this dissociation and the cognitive processes that underlie it is vital to our understanding of a fundamental form of human communication, namely, the voice. This work is also applicable to better understanding the mechanisms behind congenital amusia (tone deafness), as well as rehabilitation programs for language impairments.

Auditory scene analysis

My earlier graduate work examined the fundamental processes of auditory perception and cognition, namely auditory scene analysis. How we are able to hear one particular speaker amongst many background talkers in a cocktail party setting? What aspects of perception make this more difficult for older – rather than younger – adults, and can music training help mitigate these difficulties? I addressed these questions by studying how age impacts how we perceive the sequential order of speech sounds, and through collaboration on a review paper on the benefits of musical training for the aging brain.

For more, see my Publications