Isabelle Peretz




Dr. Peretz is a professor of Psychology at the University of Montreal and the co-holder of a Casavant Research chair in neurocognition of music. Her research focuses on the musical potential of ordinary people, its neural correlates, its heritability and its specificity relative to language. She is renowned for her work on congenital and acquired musical disorders (amusia) and on the biological foundations of music processing in general. She has published over 470 scientific papers on a variety of topics in neurocognition of music, from perception, memory, and emotions to singing and dancing (for her publications see Peretz Publications, Peretz Google Scholar).

Dr. Peretz’s research has received continued support from the Canadian Natural Science and Engineering Council and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research since 1986. In 2005, she co-founded the International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), which she directed until June 2018. BRAMS is a unique multi-university consortium that is jointly affiliated to Université de Montréal and McGill University ( The centre has quickly become a centre of excellence in the study of the biological foundations of music, as announced in the article published in Science in February 2007. Indeed, BRAMS has one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated technological platforms in the world, thanks to funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI). In June 2018, she passed the torch of co-directorship to Simone Dalla Bella.

Dr. Peretz has been awarded several prizes: The Justine & Yves Sergent award, the ACFAS Jacques Rousseau award, the Adrien Pinard award, the Neuronal Plasticity prize of the IPSEN Foundation, the prize of Excellence of FRQNT, the Women of distinction YMCA award, the Armand-Frappier Prize and more recently, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Society for Music Perception and Cognition. She is an Associate Fellow of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research (CIFAR), Azrieli program in Brain, Mind & Consciousness and a Professorial Fellow of Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences, Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry, and Health Sciences at the University of Melbourne. Dr. Peretz is a Member of the Order of Canada, an Officer of the Order of Quebec, a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, of the American Psychological Association, and now an international member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences. 

Key Research achievements

In the 1980s, the scientific study of music was marginal. Music was considered as a fine art and a pure invention of the mind with little relevance for behavioral and brain sciences. Gradually, the field has evolved into a well-established neuroscientific topic, thanks to Isabelle Peretz research (among a few others) showing that the musical capacity is not confined to an elite but develops spontaneously and early in everyone, just like language. In her research, she has shown that musicality can be distinguished from language by mobilizing a specialized brain network, under the likely influence of innate mechanisms. As a result, every individual is born musical. This neurobiological approach to music is based on a thorough and experimental study of cases that have selectively lost musical skills as a result of a stroke or of a congenital anomaly. The approach she uses pertains to cognitive neuropsychology and exploits a variety of techniques, including psychophysics, electroencephalography and magneto-encephalography, anatomical and functional neuroimaging by magnetic resonance, transcranial magnetic stimulation and genetics.


Dr. Peretz est professeure en psychologie à l’Université de Montréal et co-titulaire de la chaire Casavant en neuropsychologie de la musique. Ses recherches portent sur le potentiel musical de la population générale, sur ses bases cérébrales et génétiques ainsi que la spécificité de ce potentiel à l’égard du langage. En particulier, Dr. Peretz est reconnue pour ses travaux sur les troubles musicaux (amusies) congénitaux et acquis, et sur les fondements neurobiologiques de la cognition musicale en générale. Elle a publié près de 300 articles scientifiques sur des sujets variés allant de la perception, la mémoire et les émotions au chant et à la danse (Peretz Publications, Peretz Google Scholar). En 2018, elle publie un livre grand public intitulé Apprendre la musique. Nouvelles des neurosciences, chez Odile Jacob, qui a depuis été traduit en espagnol et adapté en anglais (How music sculpts our brain).

Les recherches de Dr. Peretz ont bénéficié du support financier du conseil de recherches en sciences naturelles et en génie du Canada et les Instituts de recherche en santé du Canada

Depuis 1986. En 2005, elle fonde le Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) qu’elle co-dirige jusque juin 2018. BRAMS est un groupe inter-universitaire affilié conjointement à l’université McGill et l’université de Montréal (, qui est rapidement devenu un pôle d’excellence en neurocognition de la musique.

Dre Peretz a reçu plusieurs prix: Justine & Yves Sergent, ACFAS Jacques Rousseau, Adrien Pinard, Plasticité neuronale de la Fondation IPSEN, le prix d’excellence du FRQNT, Femmes de mérite YMCA, Armand-Frappier et plus récemment, le Prix d’excellence pour l’ensemble des réalisations de la Société pour la perception et la cognition de la musique. Elle est membre associée de l’Institut canadien de recherches avancées (CIFAR), du programme Azrieli sur le cerveau, l’esprit et la conscience et membre du corps professoral de l’École des sciences psychologiques de Melbourne, de la Faculté de médecine, de dentisterie et des sciences de la santé de l’Université de Melbourne. Dre Peretz est membre de l’Ordre du Canada, officier de l’Ordre du Québec, membre de la Société Royale du Canada, de l’American Psychological Association, et maintenant membre internationale de la National Academy of Sciences des États-Unis. 


Email: Isabelle.Peretz[at]