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Laurel Trainor


  • Fellow
  • Brain, Mind & Consciousness




Laurel Trainor is a cognitive psychologist whose work brings music and science together in the study of perception, cognition and neuroscience of music.

Formally trained as a musician – and still active as principal flute of Symphony Hamilton – her research interests include the perception and cognition of music; human auditory
perceptual and cognitive development; and the perception of objects, speech and music in relation to communication, emotional development and social interaction.

Trainor is the founding and current director of LIVE Lab at McMaster University – a one
of a kind, hundred-seat concert hall equipped with virtual acoustics, the ability to measure EEG and physiology in audience members and performers, motion capture, sound recording and video presentation. The lab promises to provide valuable information on how performers and audiences interact, how children learn music and how music can be used to promote health.


  • Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, 2015
  • Nominated as a Woman of Distinction, YWCA, 2015
  • Honorary Board Member, Suzuki Society of the Americas, 2013 to present
  • Fellow, Association for Psychological Science, 2010
  • Innovator of Distinction Award, McMaster University, 2009

Relevant Publications

  • Trainor, L.J. (2015). The origins of music in auditory scene analysis and the roles of evolution and culture in musical creation. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, 370(1664). DOI:
  • Trainor, L.J., & Cirelli, L. (2015). Rhythm and interpersonal synchrony in early social development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 1337, 45–52. DOI:
  • Hove, M.J., Marie, C., Bruce, I.C., & Trainor, L.J. (2014). Superior time perception for lower musical pitch explains why bass- ranged instruments lay down musical rhythms. PNAS, 111(28), 10383-88. DOI:
  • Fujioka, T., Trainor, L.J., Large, E.W., Ross, B. (2012). Internalized timing of isochronous sounds is represented in neuromagnetic beta oscillations. Journal of Neuroscience, 32(5), 1791–1802. DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4107-11.2012.
  • Phillips-Silver, J., & Trainor, L.J. (2005). Feeling the Beat: Movement Influences Infant Rhythm Perception." Science, 308(5727), 1430. DOI: 10.1126/science.1110922

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CIFAR is a registered charitable organization supported by the governments of Canada, Alberta and Quebec, as well as foundations, individuals, corporations and Canadian and international partner organizations.

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