Pascale Tremblay, Ph.D.
Learning how the language networks changes during aging
The work of Professor Pascale Tremblay aims to understand the production and perception of language, and the evolution and modification of these advanced functions with age and experience. Because language is a complex process, Dr. Tremblay is advancing this field through an innovative multidisciplinary approach that integrates data from multiple disciplines including cognitive neuroscience, linguistics, and rehabilitation, and utilising multiple methodological approaches, including neuroimaging, brain stimulation and behavioral approaches.
Dr. Tremblay's research has revealed differences in behavior and brain activation during normal aging, revealed by longer response time and more frequent errors in complex language tasks. A better understanding of the mechanisms underlying the effects of aging on language opens the door to appropriate interventions to help seniors maintain their ability to communicate effectively.
Recently, Dr. Tremblay’s team has undertaken several studies to better understand the benefits of singing on communication in aging.
Neuroimaging to understand the organization of the brain
Dr. Tremblay is also internationally recognized for her studies on the organization of brain regions involved in language, and the importance of anatomical connections between them, a field that is rapidly evolving through neuroimaging and brain stimulation methods. This vibrant field of research now has its own organization, the Society for the Neurobiology of Language (https://www.neurolang.org/), co-founded in 2009 by Professor Tremblay. These new approaches have revealed a complex network of connections that underlie language that goes well beyond the classical language areas of Broca, Wernicke and Geschwind.
Dr. Tremblay’s interdisciplinary research program focuses on the cognitive neuroscience of human communication, with an emphasis on speech and voice perception and production in healthy young and older adults. Her work focuses on understanding the mechanisms that support the ability to communicate verbally in social contexts, that is, to perceive and produce speech and voice (an important carrier of human emotions), which are important building blocks of social interactions. She is also interested in identifying the factors that affect communication in aging, including cognitive and sensorimotor aging, and their impact on the quality of social interactions and functioning. Ultimately, her goal is to contribute to the development of strategies to prevent, slow-down or even reverse the effects of aging that negatively affect communication and social functioning.
To achieve these goals, her team studies the anatomy and functioning of the brain using state-of-the-art cognitive neuroscience research methods such as functional and anatomical brain imaging methods (using magnetic resonance imaging) as well as non-invasive brain stimulation techniques (transcranial magnetic stimulation). Her team also uses modern behavioral and physiological approaches, such as acoustical analyses of the speech signal, analyses of speech errors, facial electromyography (recordings of muscle activity), measures of facial muscle force and endurance, respiration patterns, to study speech and voice mechanisms and to understand how these mechanisms evolve over the lifespan.
- Bilodeau-Mercure M., & Tremblay P. (Accepté) Impact of aging on sequential speech production: articulatory and physiological factors. Journal of the American Geriatric Society.
- Tremblay, P., Deschamps, I., Baroni, M., Hasson, U. (2016) Neural bases of syllable frequency effects in speech perception and production. NeuroImage, 136(1),106–121.
- Lortie, C., Rivard, J., Thibeault, M., Tremblay, P. (2016) The moderating effect of frequent singing on voice aging. Journal of Voice.
- Tremblay P, Deschamps I. (2015). Structural brain aging and speech production: a surface-based brain morphometry study. Brain Structure and Function, 221(6), 3275-3299.
- Bilodeau-Mercure, M. Lortie, C.L., Guitton, M., Sato, M., Tremblay, P. (2014) The neurobiology of speech perception decline in aging Brain Structure and Function.
- Dick, A. S., Bernal, B., & Tremblay, P. (2013). The Language Connectome: New Pathways, New Concepts. Neuroscientist.
- Tremblay, P., Dick, A. S., & Small, S. L. (2013). Functional and structural aging of the speech sensorimotor neural system: functional magnetic resonance imaging evidence. Neurobiol Aging, 34(8), 1935-1951.
- Dick, A. S., & Tremblay, P. (2012). Beyond the arcuate fasciculus: consensus and controversy in the connectional anatomy of language. [Review]. Brain, 135(Pt 12), 3529-3550.
- Tremblay, P., Baroni, M., & Hasson, U. (2012). Processing of speech and non-speech sounds in the supratemporal plane: Auditory input preference does not predict sensitivity to statistical structure.Neuroimage, 66C, 318-332.
- Tremblay, P., & Small, S. L. (2011). On the context-dependent nature of the contribution of the ventral premotor cortex to speech perception. Neuroimage, 57(4), 1561-1571.
- Tremblay, P., & Gracco, V. L. (2009). Contribution of the pre-SMA to the production of words and non-speech oral motor gestures, as revealed by repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS).Brain Research, 1268, 112-124.
- Sato, M., Tremblay, P., & Gracco, V. L. (2009). A mediating role of the premotor cortex in phoneme segmentation. Brain and Language, 111(1), 1-7.
Pascale Tremblay holds a Ph.D. from McGill’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders in Montréal. For her thesis, she studied the neuromotor control of speech production focusing on lateral and medial premotor areas using functional magnetic imaging (fMRI) and non-invasive brain stimulation (TMS). She also begun studying the neural interactions between perceptual and motor mechanisms for speech. She then spent two years at the University of Chicago working on the neural mechanisms that underlie speech perception and production mechanisms in healthy young and older adults, in the laboratory of Prof. Steven L. Small. She did a second postdoctoral fellowship in 2011 in Italy with Dr. Uri Hasson at the Mind/Brain Sciences Center (CIMeC) at the Università degli Studi di Trento, where she continued investigating the neural mechanisms supporting speech perception and production using fMRI. She is professor at Laval University in Québec City since the Fall of 2011, in the Department of Rehabilitation of the Faculty of Medicine (speech-language pathology program).
Career award from the Fonds de Recherche en Santé du Québec (FRQS) [Chercheur boursier Junior 1 et Junior 2]
2601 Chemin de la Canardière