Clara James 1

Clara James

Affiliations: Faculty of Psychology and Science of Education

Group name: Geneva Musical Minds Lab (GEMMI lab)   

Domains: Development and Plasticity, Sensory and Motor Systems, Perception, Attention and Cognition

Keywords: brain plasticity, child development, countervail cognitive decline, Musical training regimens

Research activities

The Geneva Musical Minds Laboratory (GEMMI lab), is led by Clara James, Privat Docent at the FPSE of the UNIGE, Full Professor UAS at the Geneva School of Health Sciences HES-SO and professional musician.

Her team develops and studies music interventions aiming to countervail cognitive, sensorimotor and cerebral decline in elderly. An ongoing international longitudinal RCT, in collaboration with Prof. Eckart Altenmüller (HMTMH, Hannover, Germany), compares the impact of piano practice versus music listening and understanding (SNSF 100019E-170410). Different MRI techniques are used to study brain function and structure in both groups (fMRI, resting state MRI, VBM, DTI, ASL), in relationship to cognitive and sensorimotor behavior.

She also studied the impact of an “Orchestra in Class” program on cognitive and sensorimotor development in primary school children, showing broad cognitive and sensorimotor benefits.

Previously, Clara James performed fundamental research (SNSF 100014_125050). Together with her co-authors she could show progressive changes in cognitive behavior, brain functioning (EEG, fMRI), and brain structure for gray (VBM) and white matter (DTI), as a function of musical training intensity.

She also studied brain and behavioral correlates of absolute pitch.

Clara James teaches “Neuropsychology of Music” at the Psychology Department of the University of Geneva (Master’s level).

Site web du groupe

Clara James


Key publications

See the complete list of the publications



Faculté de psychologie et scie
Université de Genève
Haute Ecole de Santé de Genève