Robert J. Zatorre, Ph.D.

Robert Zatorre is a cognitive neuroscientist at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. He was born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and carried out his doctoral studies at Brown University with the late Peter Eimas, followed by postdoctoral work with Brenda Milner. He currently holds a Canada Research Chair at the Montreal Neurological Institute of McGill University. In 2006 he became the founding co-director, with Isabelle Peretz, of the international laboratory for Brain, Music, and Sound research (BRAMS). His work has been recognized with several awards including the IPSEN foundation prize in neuronal plasticity in 2011, the Knowles prize in hearing research from Northwestern University in 2013, election to the Royal Society of Canada in 2017, and the Carvalho-Heineken prize in cognitive science from the Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2020. He is also a fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research.

Dr Zatorre’s lab studies the neural substrates of auditory cognition, with special emphasis on two complex and characteristically human abilities: speech and music. With his collaborators and students Dr Zatorre has published over 300 scientific papers on topics including pitch and melody perception, auditory imagery, music production, brain plasticity in musicians, and the role of the dopaminergic reward circuitry in mediating musical pleasure. His research spans all aspects of human auditory processing, from the functional and anatomical properties of auditory cortex and its connectivity, to how these properties differ between the hemispheres, and how they change with training or sensory loss.

Examples of recent research projects include: using graph theory models to understand anatomical connectivity of the auditory cortex from MR diffusion data (Misic et al, Cereb Cortex, 2018); using MEG to track the cortical and subcortical responses to periodicity (Coffey et al Nature Comm, 2016, 2019); applying machine learning algorithms to fMRI to investigate reward-related brain activity to music (Gold et al PNAS, 2019); demonstrating hemispheric asymmetries in fMRI activity to speech and melody in relation to spectrotemporal modulations (Albouy et al Science, 2020); and application of brain stimulation paradigms to enhance auditory working memory (Albouy et al, Neuron, 2017) and to modify hedonic responses to music (Mas-Herrero et al, Nature Hum Beh, 2018).  Dr. Zatorre’s activities are funded by CIHR, NSERC, CFREF and CIFAR.

icon Affiliation: BRAMS Co-Director, Professor, Montreal Neurological Institute

icon University: McGill University

icon Email

icon Phone: (514) 398-8903

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BRAMS (International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research) is a unique centre dedicated to research excellence in the study of music and auditory cognition with a focus on neuroscience. The research centre is located in Montreal and jointly affiliated with the University of Montreal and McGill University.


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