Deciphering the Cognitive and Neural Mechanisms Underlying Auditory Learning

This project seeks to understand the brain mechanisms necessary for people to learn to perceive sounds.

Neural circuits and learning

The research team will test people with and without musical training to evaluate their capacity to learn sound patterns. They will scan the subjects with magnetic resonance imaging to determine the neural circuits that underlie these abilities. Musicians from Israel and India will be compared to determine how cultural factors affect learning.

Specifically, the project aims to:

-understand how the brain learns by examining the influence of auditory learning

-test well-controlled musical training procedures in different linguistic and cultural environments

-identify which brain areas and parameters are modified by auditory learning

-further develop the training environment and collaborative research across the research sites

The findings will help us to understand learning mechanisms that can be applied to predict learning problems. The research team will also test persons with dyslexia to understand how this disorder may be related to impairments in the person's ability to learn new sound patterns.

Project leadership

The project lead is Robert Zatorre at McGill University, Canada. His collaborators are Merav Ahissar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel, and Nandini C. Singh, the National Brain Research Centre, India.

Project funding

This project is funded through the first research competition of the Joint Canada-Israel Health Research Initiative. The Initiative is a collaboration between the Azrieli Foundation, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Israel Science Foundation, and Canada's International Development Research Centre.

Project ID


Project status


End Date

Monday, December 23, 2019


36 months

IDRC Officer

Fabiano Santos

Total funding

CA$ 332,673


Canada-Israel Health Research Program

Project Leader

Robert Zatorre


The Royal Institution for the Advancement of Learning/McGill University

Institution Country


Institution Website