Indre Viskontas headshot

Indre Viskontas

Associate Professor

Full-Time Faculty


Combining a passion for music with scientific curiosity, Professor Viskontas works at the intersection of art and science. She has published more than 50 original papers and chapters related to the neural basis of memory and creativity. Her scientific work has been featured in Oliver Sacks’ book Musicophilia, Nautilus, Nature: Science Careers, and Discover Magazine. She has also written for, American Scientist, Vitriol Magazine, and other publications. Her first book, How Music Can Make You Better, was published by Chronicle Books in April, 2019, and within a week was the best-selling music appreciation book on Amazon. She also serves as the Director of Communications for the Sound Health Network, an initiative promoting research and public awareness of the impact of music on health and well-being.

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. Her 24-lecture course Essential Scientific Concepts was released by The Great Courses in 2014. Her second course, Brain Myths Exploded: Lessons from Neuroscience, based on a class she taught at USF, was released in early 2017 and hit #1 on the nonfiction bestseller list at Her third course, How Digital Technology Shapes Us was also based on a class she teaches at USF, and was released in 2020. Her forthcoming course, The Creative Brain, is slated to be released on the Wondrium platform in 2022. Dr. Viskontas's creative work includes stage directing opera. She is 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. Other directing credits include Katya Kabanova with West Edge Opera at Cal Shakes in Orinda in 2021.

Dr. Viskontas is also a sought-after science communicator. She co-hosted the 6-episode docu-series 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. In 2017, she co-hosted the web series Science in Progress for and VRV. She is also the host of the popular science podcast Inquiring Minds, which has more than 13 million downloads. Her other podcast, Cadence: What Music Tells Us About the Mind was a Webby Award Honoree in 2021.


  • Neuroscience
  • Creativity
  • Memory
  • Arts and health

Research Areas

  • Learning and memory
  • Arts and health
  • Creativity
  • Music
  • Neurodegenerative diseases


  • Director of Communications, Sound Health Network
  • Chair, Scientific Advisory Board, NeuroArts BluePrint Initiative
  • President-Elect, Society for the Neuroscience of Creativity


  • PhD, Cognitive Neuroscience, University of California - Los Angeles
  • MM, San Francisco Conservatory of Music
  • BSc, University of Toronto

Prior Experience

  • Professor of Sciences and Humanities, San Francisco Conservatory of Music

Awards & Distinctions

  • Osher Fellow, California Academy of Sciences, 2023
  • Davies Chair, University of San Francisco, 2022
  • Hellman Fellow, University of California, San Francisco
  • Cermak Post-Doctoral Award, Memory Disorders Research Society
  • Dissertation Prize, Department of Psychology, University of California, Los Angeles

Selected Publications

  • Daker, R. J., Viskontas, I. V., Porter, G. F., Colaizzi, G. A., Lyons, I. M., & Green, A. E. (2023). Investigating links between creativity anxiety, creative performance, and state-level anxiety and effort during creative thinking. Scientific Reports, 13(1), 17095.
  • Hartley, I., & Viskontas, I. (2023). How Technology Is Changing Creativity. In Creativity, Innovation, and Change Across Cultures (pp. 391-412). Cham: Springer International Publishing.
  • Slayton, M. A., Romero-Sosa, J. L., Shore, K., Buonomano, D. V., & Viskontas, I. V. (2020). Musical expertise generalizes to superior temporal scaling in a Morse code tapping task. Plos one, 15(1), e0221000.
  • Viskontas, I. (2019). How music can make you better. Chronicle Books.
  • Slayton, M., Bristol, A. S., & Viskontas, I. V. (2019). Factors affecting group creativity: lessons from musical ensembles. Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences. 27, 169-174.