Songs in the key of brain health

Université Laval intern researches links between neurological health and choral singing

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 thanks the Government of Canada and the Government of Quebec for their support of the Globalink research internship in this story. Across Canada, the Globalink research internship program also receives support from Alberta Innovates, the Government of British Columbia, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, the Government of Prince Edward Island, the Government of Saskatchewan, and Research Manitoba.

In addition, Mitacs is pleased to work with the following international partners to support the Globalink program: 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; 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.

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