Michel Belyk

About me


I study the vocal system of the human brain. Humans have a degree of control over the larynx that is unparalleled among primates. Acquiring flexible and volitional control over the larynx was a key step in the evolution of our singular capacity for verbal communication, without which speech and song would be impossible.

From an ancestor that communicated only through pre-programmed emotional vocalizations, humans evolved the ability to learn novel vocal patterns. My research focuses on exploring the evolutionarily novel neural system that gives humans flexible control over the larynx and how this system coordinates pre-programmed and learned vocal motor patterns to produce complex behaviour of human communication.


  • Vocalization
  • Neuro-motor control
  • Speech disorders
  • Voice perception
  • Evolution of speech


  • Structural and functional MRI
  • Meta-analysis
  • Acoustic measurement

Qualifications and Professional Experience

  • 2015 – McMaster University, Canada: Ph.D. (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour)
  • 2006 – McMaster University, Canada: B.A. (Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour)

Selected Publications

  • Belyk, M., Profdresher, PQ, Liotti, M., & Brown, S. (2016). The neural basis of vocal imitation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 28, 621-635.
  • Belyk, M. & Brown, S. (2016). Pitch underlies activation of the vocal system during affective vocalization. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 11, 1078-1088.
  • Belyk, M., Kraft, S.-J., Brown, S. (2015). Stuttering as a trait or state: An ALE meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. European Journal of Neuroscience, 41, 275-284.
  • Belyk, M. & Brown ,S. (2014). Perception of affective and linguistic prosody: An ALE meta-analysis of neuroimaging studies. Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience, 9, 1395-1403.


  • 2015 – 2016 – Erasmus Mundus ACN Mobility Award
  • 2014 – 2015 – Margo Wilson & Martin Daly Scholar
  • 2013 – 2014 – Susan Morag McNeil Cameron Memorial Scholar
  • 2012 – 2013 – Dr. Jane McCracken Scholar