Welcome to BRAMS – International Laboratory for BRAin, Music and Sound Research

BRAMS 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.

The idea of BRAMS began in August 2003 from the dream of Isabelle Peretz, joined by several Montreal scientists, to create a research centre that would unite their complementary expertise and long-held interest in music cognition. BRAMS was officially launched in 2005 by co-directors Isabelle Peretz (Professor of Psychology at University of Montreal) and Robert Zatorre (Professor at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University). The laboratory quickly became a centre of excellence in the study of the biological foundations of music, as hailed by Science in February 2007. BRAMS has one of the most comprehensive and sophisticated technological platforms in the world thanks to funding from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) of more than $14 million allocated in 2007.

Since April 2011, BRAMS is part of the CRBLM strategic cluster – Centre for Research on Brain, Language and Music.

In 2018, Isabelle Peretz decided to pass the torch of co-directorship to ensure a bright and long future for BRAMS. The BRAMS facilities were moved to the nearby Pavilion Marie Victorin at the University of Montreal, and Simone Dalla Bella, recruited from University of Montpellier (France), took over as co-director of BRAMS.

The BRAMS technological platform and facilities are primarily located at the University of Montreal (90 Ave. Vincent-d’Indy, Outremont), and include six soundproof testing rooms, a fNIRS System (functional Near-Infrared Spectroscopy), a TMS System (Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation), five EEG systems (Electro-encephalography), a dome with 80 speakers, and a fully functional Motion Capture lab. A Bösendorfer piano unique in North America is currently located at the University of Montreal’s Laval campus. Moreover, state-of-the-art facilities for brain imaging and stimulation are available at the Montreal Neurological Institute.

Our interests

The main interests of BRAMS include answering the following questions: Why is the brain musical? How does the structure and function of the nervous system allow us to remember, play, listen and respond to music? How are these functions related to other cognitive domains such as understanding speech? How do these functions change during development, and how do they breakdown in disease? How can music be exploited for rehabilitation or re-learning of impaired functions in patient populations?

Today, BRAMS is home to more than 70 internationally renowned faculty members, from four Montreal Universities and from abroad, dedicated to auditory cognitive neuroscience. Thirteen of them currently hold a Canada Research Chair (Miriam Beauchamp, Jonathan Bolduc, Krista Byers-Heinlein, Karim Jerbi, Pierre Jolicoeur, Caroline Palmer, Isabelle Peretz, Karsten Steinhauer, Debra Titone, Jérémie Voix, Michael Wagner, Robert Zatorre, Benjamin Zendel), Robert Zatorre and Marc Pell hold a James McGill Research Chair, and Isabelle Peretz and Simone Dalla Bella hold a Casavant Chair in neuropsychology and music cognition. Such a concentration of experts in the neuroscience of music and auditory cognition is unique in North America. BRAMS members’ research covers the spectrum from perception of music, speech, and voice to memory and motor performance, with a common interest in the neural substrates of human auditory cognition and music in particular. Between 100 and 150 trainees per year have access to BRAMS technological platform for research.