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Dr. Virginia Penhune


Virginia Penhune, Ph.D.

(Ph.D. Psychology 1998; University of McGill)


Associate Professor of Psychology
Concordia University

7141 Sherbrooke Street, West
Montreal, Quebec, H4B 1R6

Tel: 514-848-2424 ext. 7535


Penhune Lab for Motor Learning and Neural Plasticity






he work in my laboratory is focused on understanding plastic changes in the human brain related to motor learning and performance. My research program has three major axes. The first is uses structural and functional MRI to examine the role of motor networks in learning and memory for fine motor skills. We are particularly interested in identifying brain regions involved in learning different movement parameters, and in auditory-motor integration and timing. The second axis of research comprises kinematic studies of motor skill learning using 3D motion capture that are aimed at identifying specific movement parameters related to movement timing and error correction. The third axis is focused on developmental studies of motor skill learning. This axis includes studies of children and older adults, as well as individuals with musical training. Current studies include behavioral and brain imaging studies aimed at identifying a possible sensitive period for musical training, as well as studies of movement imitation.

Current research projects include:

1. Exploring the role of motor cortex, BG and cerebellum in motor learning

2. Testing the impact of early musical training on brain structure and function

3. Examining the relationship between motor imitation and motor learning

4. Studying developmental changes in motor learning and performance in children

5. Exploring the effects of aging on motor learning and kinematics (with Dr. K Li)

6. Examining the neural basis of auditory-motor integration (with Dr. R Zatorre)





Baer, L.H., Thibodeau, J.L.N., *Gralnick, T., Li, K.Z.H., & Penhune, V.B. (2013).  The role of musical training in emergent and event-based timing.  Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7 (191), 1-10.


Brown, R.M., Chen, J.L., Hollinger, A., Penhune, V.B., Palmer, C. & Zatorre, R.J. (2013).  Repetition suppression in auditory-motor regions to pitch and temporal structure in music.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25 (2), 313-328.


Kung, S.J., Chen, J.L., Zatorre, R.J., & Penhune, V.B. (2013).  Interacting cortical and basal ganglia networks underlying finding and tapping to the musical beat.  Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 25 (3): 401-420


Steele, C.M., Bailey, J.A., Zatorre, R.J., & Penhune, V.B. (2013).  Early musical training and white-matter plasticity in the Corpus Callosum: Evidence for a sensitive period.  Journal of Neuroscience, 33 (3), 1282-1290