OLD-Rachel Brown

Research Description

I aim to understand how humans learn complex sound patterns, such as speech or music, and how the ability to learn changes over the lifespan. I use behavioral, electrophysiological, and neuroimaging methods to examine 1) how associating patterns of sound with patterns of body movement can enhance auditory learning, 2) how grouping sounds together within a sequence can aid learning, 3) how learning changes over the course of normal aging, and 4) how individual abilities influence learning. The goal of this work is to understand not just what kinds of learning lead to better memory, but the dynamic processes underlying learning itself, particularly how and why people get better at anticipating what sounds will come next while they learn a novel pattern of sounds.

Research Themes

  • Sequence learning and memory
  • Auditory-motor integration
  • Learning in healthy aging
  • Expertise
  • Mental imagery

Selected Publications

  • Kotz, S. A., Brown, R. M., & Schwartze, M. (2016). Cortico-striatal circuits and the timing of action and perception. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences, 8, 42-45.
  • 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.
  • Brown, R. M., & Palmer, C. (2012). Auditory-motor learning influences auditory memory for music. Memory and Cognition, 40(4), 567–578.
  • Brown, R. M., Robertson, E. M., & Press, D.Z. (2009). Sequence skill acquisition and off-line learning in normal aging. PLoS ONE 4(8):e6683.doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006683.
  • Brown, R. M. & Robertson, E. M. (2007). Inducing motor skill improvements with a declarative task. Nature Neuroscience, 10(2), 148–149.


  • Structural and functional MRI
  • Behavior
  • EEG


  • 2013 – McGill University, Canada: Ph.D. (Experimental Psychology)
  • 2004 – Mount Holyoke College, USA: B.A. (Psychology, High Honors)


  • 2016 – 2018 – Marie Sklodowska-Curie Grant, Maastricht University, Netherlands
  • 2013 – 2015 – NSERC-Create Post-doctoral Fellowship, Concordia University, Canada
  • 2013 – 2014 – Quebec Bioimaging Network Scholarship, Concordia University, Canada
  • 2009 – 2013 – FQRNT Doctoral Research Merit Scholarship, McGill University, Canada
  • 2007 – 2009 – Richard H. Tomlinson Master’s Fellowship, McGill University, Canada