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Professor Indre Viskontas, Ph.D.

Professor Indre Viskontas
  • University of San Francisco; San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • University of California, Los Angeles
The beauty of science is that with each question that is answered, many more questions are raised; each discovery helps us develop more refined queries about the world around us.
Dr. Indre Viskontas is a Cognitive Neuroscience Affiliate with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, where she has studied the emergence of creativity in patients with dementia.

Dr. Indre Viskontas is an Adjunct Professor of Psychology at the University of San Francisco and Professor of Sciences and Humanities at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is pioneering the application of neuroscience to musical training. Professor Viskontas received her Bachelor of Science degree with a Specialist in Psychology and a minor in French Literature at Trinity College in the University of Toronto. She also holds a Masters of Music degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She completed her PhD in cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Los Angeles, where she studied the neural basis of memory and reasoning. Her post-doctoral work at the University of California, San Francisco explored the paradoxical facilitation of creativity in patients with neurodegenerative diseases.

Dr. Viskontas’ research is characterized by innovation and a focus on the ‘big’ questions in neuroscience: how do brain cells code memory? What brain changes foster creativity? How can neuroscience help us train musicians more effectively? Defying traditional career boundaries, Dr. Viskontas spends much of her time performing as an opera singer, with favorite recent roles including both Susanna and the Countess in Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro, the title role in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe, Lazuli in Chabrier’s L’Etoile, the title role in Floyd’s Susannah, Micaela in Bizet’s Carmen and Beth in Adamo’s Little Women with companies such as West Bay Opera, Opera on Tap, the Lyric Theater of San Jose, the Banff Summer Arts Festival, Pasadena Opera and others. She often works with living composers and has created roles in three contemporary operas. She is the founder and director of Vocallective, a consortium of singers and instrumentalists dedicated to the art of vocal chamber music as well as Opera on Tap: San Francisco, a chapter of the nation-wide organization whose mission is to create a place for opera in popular culture by producing high-quality performances in non-traditional venues, such as art galleries, bars and cafes.

Dr. Viskontas’s dissertation was recognized as the best of her class. She has also been the recipient of numerous fellowships, including a 4-year Julie-Payette Research Scholarship awarded to the top 10 Canadian graduate students in the Life Sciences, the Ursula Mandel Fellowship, a UCLA dissertation fellowship, the Charles and Sue Young award for the top graduate students at UCLA, a McBean Family Foundation fellowship, and the prestigious Laird Cermak award from the Memory Disorders Research Society. She was awarded the Distinguished Teaching Assistant award at UCLA and served as the teaching assistant consultant in the Department of Psychology, instructing other graduate students on effective teaching from 2003-2005. In her very first term at the University of San Francisco, her students chose her to be the ‘Professor of the Month’. She has also received several grants from the Germanacos Foundation for her work on music and empathy.

Dr. Viskontas has published more than 40 original papers and book chapters related to the neural basis of memory, reasoning and creativity, in top scientific journals such as the American Scientist, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Journal of Neuroscience, Neuropsychologia, Current Opinion in Neurology and Nature: Clinical Practice. Her scientific work was featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nature: Science Careers and Discover Magazine. She is a sought-after science communicator, co-creator and host of the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds, which reached more than 5 million downloads within three years. She also co-hosted the 6-episode docuseries Miracle Detectives on the Oprah Winfrey Network and has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, major radio stations across the US, including several appearances on the NPR program City Arts & Lectures and The Sunday Edition on the CBC in Canada. Dr. Viskontas regularly gives keynote talks for conferences and organizations as diverse as Ogilvy & Mather, Genentech, and the Dallas Symphony. She is a fellow of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry and an Editor of the journal Neurocase.

In addition, she is a member of the collegiate faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she is pioneering the application of neuroscience to musical training. She earned an M.M. in Vocal Performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of California, Los Angeles. In recognition of her teaching and research, she has received numerous awards and honors, including the prestigious Laird Cermak Award from the Memory Disorders Research Society; the Charles and Sue Young Award for being one of the top graduate students at UCLA; and several fellowships. Professor Viskontas has published more than 35 articles and chapters in top scientific journals, including the Journal of Neuroscience and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her dissertation, recognized as the best of her class, was a finalist for the Dissertation Prize from the New York Academy of Sciences. An editor of the journal Neurocase, Professor Viskontas also hosted the television series Miracle Detectives, which aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. She currently cohosts the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds.
Testimonials

"Beautifully presented, clearly explained while avoiding condescending sugarcoating and oversimplification! This is real teaching!  A gifted scientist and communicator."

16 Courses and Sets

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16 Courses and Sets

  1. Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience

    Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience

    Indre Viskontas
    4.5 out of 5
    82% of reviewers would recommend this series
    (34)
    Starting at $149.95 Starting at $149.95 $269.95 $149.95$269.95
    To build a more accurate understanding of the brain, you have to start by shattering popular myths. Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience is an eye-opening journey into the neuroscience of everyday life. Each of Dr. Indre Viskontas’s 24 lectures use a prevalent brain myth to explore topics including decision making, memory, dreams, emotions, neuroplasticity, consciousness, mental illness, and more.
  2. 12 Essential Scientific Concepts

    12 Essential Scientific Concepts

    Indre Viskontas
    4.2 out of 5
    81% of reviewers would recommend this series
    (53)
    Starting at $129.95 Starting at $129.95 $254.95 $129.95$254.95
    With 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, finally satisfy your desire for scientific inquiry in a way that makes this enormous field accessible, understandable, and undeniably captivating. Indre Viskontas, an award-winning cognitive neuroscientist affiliated with the Memory and Aging Center at the University of California, San Francisco, has a knack for making hard science clear to laypeople. She boils down the...
  3. Special Collection - 36 Big Ideas Collection

    Special Collection - 36 Big Ideas

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    2.9 out of 5
    30% of reviewers would recommend this series
    (10)
    Starting at $199.95 Starting at $199.95 $199.95 $199.95$199.95
    The Great Courses has introduced millions of lifelong learners to some of the biggest ideas out there. Enjoy a collection of 36 lectures specially curated from some of our most popular courses and get a fresh learning experience in a wide range of disciplines. Religious writings that may have been forged; a universal template of world myths; the science of tasting colors—Join us for an intriguing tour of big ideas!
  4. (Set)  12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Joy of Mathematics Set

    (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Joy of Mathematics

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $429.90 Starting at $429.90 $509.90 $429.90$509.90
  5. (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World  Set

    (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Understanding the Inventions That Changed the World

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $534.90 Starting at $534.90 $629.90 $534.90$629.90
    Spark your curiosity with these two fascinating courses that just may alter your perspective on the importance and consequences of scientific discoveries and inventions that have transformed society and our understanding of the universe. In 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, get an introduction to 12 basic concepts such as neuroplasticity, epigenetics, and emergence from a passionate scientist who shows you how...
  6. (Set)  12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Einsteins Relativity Set

    (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Einsteins Relativity

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $259.90 Starting at $259.90 $509.90 $259.90$509.90
  7. (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Joy of Science  Set

    (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Joy of Science

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $429.90 Starting at $429.90 $879.90 $429.90$879.90
    Take this opportunity to grasp the 12 scientific concepts every educated person should know, and use them as a jumping-off point into more detailed study of these and related ideas, in this absorbing course set. First, in 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, get an introduction to 12 basic concepts, ranging from quantum theory to brain plasticity to the latest theories about the Big Bang. Then, in The Joy of...
  8. (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small   Set

    (Set) 12 Essential Scientific Concepts & Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $429.90 Starting at $429.90 $509.90 $429.90$509.90
    Get an introduction to the basic concepts of science, including nanotechnology, in this eye-opening course set. First, in 12 Essential Scientific Concepts, get a comprehensive treatment of 12 basic concepts, ranging from quantum theory to brain plasticity to the latest theories about the Big Bang. Then, in Introduction to Nanotechnology: The New Science of Small, focus on the astounding technological...
  9. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Addictive Brain Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Addictive Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Dive deep into the innermost workings of your brain with this illuminating two-course set. Start by exploring common misinformation about the human mind with Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, understand how and why we develop addictions and what part the brain plays in this phenomenon with The Addictive Brain.
  10. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Mind-Body Philosophy Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Mind-Body Philosophy

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $299.90 Starting at $299.90 $539.90 $299.90$539.90
    Discover how our brain functions and how it works with our bodies with this two-course set. Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience busts popular myths about memory, dreams, emotions, consciousness, and more. Then, take an intellectually exhilarating tour through questions and theories addressing one of life’s greatest mysteries in Mind-Body Philosophy.
  11. (Set) 36 Big Ideas & The Joy of Ancient History Set

    (Set) 36 Big Ideas & The Joy of Ancient History

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $399.90 Starting at $399.90 $399.90 $399.90$399.90
    Learn something new and exciting with this set of collections courses. Begin by exploring 36 ideas – philosophy, science and more – that have changed the face of civilization. Then, dive into ancient history and hopscotch around the world and across time to experience the fascinating variety of what the past has to offer.
  12. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Aging Brain Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & The Aging Brain

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $239.90 Starting at $239.90 $469.90 $239.90$469.90
    Probe the fascinating world of your brain with this two-course set. Start by getting the truth about common misperceptions regarding memory, dreams, and more in Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, discover what happens to your mind as you get older with The Aging Brain.
  13. (Set) Great Ideas of Philosophy & 36 Big Ideas Set

    (Set) Great Ideas of Philosophy & 36 Big Ideas

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $499.90 Starting at $499.90 $499.90 $499.90$499.90
  14. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Neuroscience of Everyday Life Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Neuroscience of Everyday Life

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $554.90 Starting at $554.90 $644.90 $554.90$644.90
    Take neuroscience to a whole new level with this eye-opening two-course set. An acclaimed neuroscientist provides the true stories behind what we think we know about the human brain in Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, chart the workings of the brain and the rest of the nervous system with Neuroscience of Everyday Life.
  15. (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior Set

    (Set) Brain Myths Exploded & Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $279.90 Starting at $279.90 $524.90 $279.90$524.90
    How do humans work? Discover the answer with this extraordinary two-course set. Start by sorting out neuroscientific fact from fiction with Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience. Then, take a fascinating journey into the complex heart of who you are with Understanding the Mysteries of Human Behavior.
  16. (Set) Exploring Metaphysics & 12 Essential Scientific Concept Set

    (Set) Exploring Metaphysics & 12 Essential Scientific Concept

    Taught By Multiple Professors
    Starting at $279.90 Starting at $279.90 $279.90 $279.90$279.90
    Engage your mind with this enthralling set of courses. Begin by exploring metaphysics, and understanding the oldest strand of philosophical thought –an inquiry into the very nature of reality itself. Then, delve into the twelve core concepts that any student of scientific inquiry needs to understand, from the miracle of life to making order out of chaos.
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