Floris van Vugt

Assistant Professor, University of Montreal - Montreal, Canada
Montreal, Canada
Floris van Vugt

I feel it’s important to avoid air travel as much as possible. But I find it difficult at the same time on a personal level, living far away from my family. I have come to enjoy taking journeys by train and bus whenever possible. There is an added benefit there actually, for example when traveling from the Netherlands to Italy I tend to do it in two days, stopping over in Paris, having a wonderful evening with old friends there.

Traveling by train is slower, but I tend to meet people and ponder research questions. It’s part of my effort to slow down my life and work on my long-term vision for science and the world.

I’m interested in sensorimotor learning and human connection. I’m interested in how the brain learns the connection between movement and perception. When you first learn to speak or play a musical instrument, you need to learn which movement results in which sounds: a sensorimotor map.

In my research I have developed an experimental paradigm inspired by instrument learning, in which participants make movements to auditory targets. This has allowed us to study the behavioral and neural underpinnings of map learning, but we have really only begun to understand how the brain achieves this feat. A second line of research concerns the use of music as a tool for social integration. This line of research is aimed at understanding how we can overcome divisions in our fragmented society, such as divisions that arise from migration history, education, political views, or language and culture. Music, the universal language, holds potential to bridge these gaps and I am passionate to learn how it can be brought to fruition to bring about a world with more understanding between people.