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Songs in the key of brain health

At a glance
The intern

Anne-Christine Bricaud, Université Pierre Et Marie Curie Paris 6

Hosted by

Pascale Tremblay, Rehabilitation Department at Université Laval

The research

The effects of group singing on communication and brain health

Whether it’s in the shower, on the commute to work, or when helping little ones fall asleep, singing is an everyday activity in many people’s lives. But a research project based at the Université Laval hopes to demonstrate that singing can also benefit neurological health.

Led by Professor Pascale Tremblay in the university’s Department of Rehabilitation, the project has provided a unique research opportunity for Anne-Christine Bricaud, who travelled from France to spend the summer as a Mitacs Globalink research intern. She’s working with a team at Laval to determine the effects of group singing on communication and brain health, especially among senior citizens.

Anne-Christine is working on participant recruitment, so she’s interviewing people who’ve expressed interest in being part of the study and determining whether they meet the appropriate criteria. “Our research will compare two groups of 60 people,” Anne-Christine explains. “Both groups span 20–90 years old, but only one group participates in group singing on a regular basis.”

Anne-Christine, Prof. Tremblay, and the rest of the team will then compare the groups for differences in vocal capacity, articulation, and cognition. A second component of the study will compare participants’ brains anatomy and functioning.

A former choral singer and current student in speech-language pathology herself, Anne-Christine was immediately drawn to the project and the Globalink program — but there was one potential hiccup. “I heard about the project from a university email, but at that point, I only had three weeks before the deadline to submit my application.” A scramble to secure the necessary materials, including a passport and recommendation letters, proved tricky but ultimately worth it for Anne-Christine.

Anne-Christine’s experience has been something to sing about: “I was always drawn to coming to Canada, and this has been an incredible opportunity for my education and for the cultural experience. I’m not sure yet what my future plans are, but I am definitely thinking about coming back here for further study.”


Mitacs would like to thank the Government of Canada, along with the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink Research Internship program. In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support Globalink: Universities Australia; the China Scholarship Council; Campus France; the German Academic Exchange Service; Mexico’s Secretariat of Public Education, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the National Autonomous University of Mexico; Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Education; and Tunisia’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Mission Universitaire de Tunisie en Amerique du Nord.

Photo by David Beale on Unsplash.