Indre Viskontas is a neuroscientist, opera stage director and sought-after science communicator across all mediums. Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, she is affectionately known as Dr. Dre by her students at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where she pioneered the application of neuroscience to musical training, and at the University of San Francisco, where she is an Associate Professor of Psychology and director of the Creative Brain Lab. She received a BSc in psychology and French literature from the University of Toronto, an MM degree in vocal performance from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and a PhD in cognitive neuroscience from UCLA. She is also the Creative Director of Pasadena Opera, where she directed The Man Who Mistook his Wife for a Hat, a chamber opera based on the famous case study written by Oliver Sacks and Proving Up, by one of opera’s most exciting composer/librettist duos, Missy Mazzoli and Royce Vavrek. Last summer, she directed Katya Kabanova for West Edge Opera at the California Shakespeare Theater.
As a scientist, Dr. Viskontas has published more than 50 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity, including several seminal articles in top scientific journals. Her scientific work has been featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nature: Science Careers and Discover Magazine. She has also written for American Scientist, MotherJones.com, Vitriol Magazine and other publications. In 2020, SFCM and the Getty Foundation published her white paper, Music for Every Child, outlining the impact of music education on child development. Her first book, How Music Can Make You Better, was published by Chronicle Books in 2019, and within a week was the best-selling music appreciation book on Amazon.
She 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, the Ted Radio Hour and the Sunday Edition on the CBC in Canada. In 2017, she co-hosted the web series Science in Progress for Tested.com and VRV. She is also the host of the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds, which has been downloaded more than 13.8 million times. As a opera director, she incorporates neuroscience to tell humanity’s greatest stories, and her podcast, Cadence: what music tells us about the mind was a finalist for the Science Media awards, and a 2021 Webby Honoree. In 2022, she wrote and hosted the Audible Original podcast Radiant Minds: the World of Oliver Sacks. She often gives keynote talks, for organizations as diverse as Genentech, the Dallas Symphony, SXSW, TEDx and Ogilvy along with frequent invited talks at conferences and academic institutions. She has produced three 24-lecture courses for The Great Courses: Essential Scientific Concepts in 2014, Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience in 2017 and How Digital Technology Shapes Us in 2020. Her fourth course, The Creative Brain, is slated for release in 2022.