Joyce Chen

Joyce Chen, Associate Professor, Motor Learning

  • Associate Professor, Motor Learning
  • Scientist (cross-appointment), Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Member, Rehabilitation Sciences Institute
55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON M5S 2W6

About Joyce

Academic Training

Postdoctoral Fellow, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School

Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Experimental Psychology and FMRIB, University of Oxford

PhD, Neurological Sciences, McGill University

BSc Physical Therapy, McGill University


I trained and worked as a physiotherapist in Montreal, specializing in the rehabilitation of movements after brain injury such as stroke. The brain has always fascinated me because of its ability to change, in response to injury and training. I obtained my PhD at the Montreal Neurological Institute, McGill University, where my research elucidated the neural basis for how we synchronize our actions with sounds - something you might find yourself doing when tapping to the beat of music or dancing.

The aim of my present research is to discover the limits of the brain’s plasticity. Using fundamental and applied research approaches, we want to understand how far can we push motor performance in a musician or athlete, and find ways to enhance the brain's plasticity so that people with stroke can improve their capacity to move.

Graduate Student Recruitment Status
Accepting PhD and MSc students
Research Interests

Motor learning

Music perception and production

Stroke motor recovery and rehabilitation



Selected Publications

Swarbrick Dana, Kiss Alex, Trehub Sandra, Tremblay Luc, Alter David, Chen Joyce L. (2020)
HIIT the Road Jack: An Exploratory Study on the Effects of an Acute Bout of Cardiovascular High-Intensity Interval Training on Piano Learning, Frontiers in Psychology, 11.

Lam, T.K., Cheung, D.K., Climans, S.A., Black, S.E., Gao, F., Szilagyi, G.M., Mochizuki, G., Chen, J.L. (2020). Determining corticospinal tract injury from stroke using computed tomography. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 1-10.

Lam, T.K., Binns, M.A., Dawson, D.D., Honjo, K., Ross, B., Stuss, D.T., Black, S.E., Chen,
J.J., Fujioka, T., Chen, J.L. (2018). Variability in stroke motor outcome in explained by structural
and functional integrity of the motor system. Scientific Report, 8(1):9480

Chen, J.L. (2018). Music-supported therapy for stroke motor recovery\; Theoretical and practical
considerations. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Fujioka, T., Wright, R., Chen, J.L., Chen, J.J., Black, S.E., Stuss, D.T., Dawson, D.R., Ross
B. (2018). The effects of music-supported rehabilitation on motor, cognitive, and psychosocial
functions in chronic stroke. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences.

Lam, T.K., Dawson, D.D., Honjo, K., Ross, B., Binns, M.A., Stuss, D.T., Black, S.E., Chen,
J.J., Levine, B.T., Fujioka, T., Chen, J.L. (2017). Neural coupling between contralesional motor
and frontoparietal networks correlates with motor ability in individuals with chronic stroke. Journal of
the Neurological Sciences, 384, 21-29.

Fujii, S., Lulic, T., Chen, J.L. (2016). More feedback is better than less: Learning a novel upper
limb joint coordination pattern with augmented auditory feedback. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 10, 251.

Chen, J.L., Fujii, S., Schlaug, G. (2016). The use of augmented auditory feedback to improve arm
reaching in stroke: a case series. Disability and Rehabilitation, 38(11), 1115-24.

Currently Funded Projects

Joyce Chen (PI), Mindy Levin, Robert Chen, Jodi Edwards, Sara McEwen, Gottfried Schlaug, Alexander Thiel, Rick Swartz, Alex Kiss. Towards a personalized approach to stroke motor recovery with  transcranial direct current stimulation. Heart and Stroke Foundation, Grant-in-Aid.

Joyce Chen (PI). I hear movements: why motor brain regions are active when we listen to musical rhythms. Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Discovery Grant.

Professional Memberships

American Society of Neurorehabilitation