Dr. Peretz is a professor of Psychology at the University of Montreal. She graduated from the Free University of Brussels with a PhD in psychology in 1984. 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 270 scientific papers on a variety of topics in neurocognition of music, from perception, memory, and emotions to singing and dancing. In 2005, she co-founded the International Laboratory for Brain Music and Sound Research (BRAMS), which she directed until June 2018. The centre has quickly become a centre of excellence in the study of the biological foundations of music. 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 and of the American Psychological Association, and now an international member of U.S. the National Academy of Sciences.

Research Interests

Dr. Peretz' research focuses on the musical potential of ordinary people, its neural correlates, its heritability and its specificity relative to language. At the start, in 1980, 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.

Membership Type

International Member

Election Year


Primary Section

Section 52: Psychological and Cognitive Sciences