• Scientist, Evaluative Clinical Sciences, Hurvitz Brain Sciences Research Program, Sunnybrook Research Institute
  • Associate member, Canadian Partnership for Stroke Recovery
  • Assistant Professor (status appointment), department of physical therapy, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto
  • Associate Member, Graduate Department of Rehabilitation Science, School of Graduate Studies, U of T


Dr. Chen’s research aims to understand how the brain recovers motor functions after a stroke, and to develop novel interventions that facilitate recovery. Her lab uses neuroimaging and noninvasive brain stimulation tools to understand how patterns of brain activity and connections are changed by stroke. This information can be used to predict an individual’s recovery potential.

Dr. Chen is also interested in the use of noninvasive brain stimulation and auditory feedback such as music to improve motor function. In particular, her group is interested in how the brain changes as a function of an intervention, which will give insight into mechanisms of brain plasticity.

The lab pursues research on motor skill learning in healthy individuals. Their work focuses on factors that can enhance and optimize skill acquisition, such as intensity and frequency of practice. The aim is to understand how learning occurs in people who have had a stroke.

Tools used are functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), resting state fMRI, diffusion tensor imaging, transcranial magnetic stimulation and transcranial direct current stimulation.


  • Kung SJ, Chen JL, Zatorre RJ, Penhune VB. Interacting cortical and basal ganglia networks underlying finding and tapping to the musical beat. J Cogn Neurosci. 2013;25(3):401−20.
  • Brown RM, Chen JL, Hollinger A, Penhune VB, Palmer C, Zatorre RJ. Repetition suppression in auditory-motor regions to pitch and temporal structure in music. J Cogn Neurosci. 2013;25(2):313−28.
  • Chen JL, Rae C, Watkins KE. Learning to play a melody: an fMRI study examining the formation of auditory-motor associations. Neuroimage. 2012;59(2):1200−8.
  • Chen JL, Penhune VB, Zatorre RJ. Listening to musical rhythms recruits motor regions of the brain. Cereb Cortex. 2008;18(12):2844−54.
  • Zatorre RJ, Chen JL, Penhune VB. When the brain plays music: auditory-motor interactions in music perception and production. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2007;8(7):547−58.