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Indre Viskontas is a Lithuanian-Canadian neuroscientist and operatic soprano. She holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience and a M.M. in opera and now serves on the faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music.

Indre Viskontas
Viskontas Indre IV 095.jpg
ResidenceSan Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles, PhD (2006); San Francisco Conservatory of Music, MM (2008)
Scientific career
FieldsNeuroscience, opera
InstitutionsSan Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of California, San Francisco


Early lifeEdit

Viskontas's parents emigrated from Lithuania to Canada just after World War II, and Viskontas herself grew up in Toronto.[1] She is an atheist.[2]

Scientific careerEdit

Viskontas's research has explored the neurological basis of memory, reasoning and self-identity, and most recently she has studied creativity in people with neurodegeneration. This is an appealing area to study, according to Viskontas, because it allows her to "marvel at what's magnificent about the brain rather than just bemoan what's been lost when things go awry."[3] Techniques used in her research include single-unit recording in patients with epilepsy, high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging, eye-movement tracking, voxel-based morphometry, and various behavioral tasks in healthy adults, patients with epilepsy, and patients with neurodegenerative diseases such as frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and Alzheimer's disease. She has published over 30 research articles and book chapters.[4]

Viskontas is affiliated with the Memory and Aging Program at the University of California at San Francisco and is an editor of the journal Neurocase.[4][5]

Musical careerEdit

Indre Viskontas performing with Opera on Tap: San Francisco at Cafe Royal on October 22, 2012. Photograph by Erica Mu.

Viskontas has studied opera since she was a young child and performed for the Canadian Opera Company when she was only 11 years old.[3] She continued to study music throughout her life even while working towards her Ph.D. in neuroscience.[6] Upon receiving her Ph.D., she began working on her Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. She earned that degree in 2008, once again graduating as her class valedictorian.[3][7]

Viskontas has performed as a soprano for numerous roles, including Beth in Mark Adamo’s Little Women, Kate in John Estacio’s Frobisher, Heart's Desire in Arthur Sullivan's The Rose of Persia and Aurelia in Purcell's Dioclesian.[8] She is a frequent soloist with many San Francisco chamber groups and is the co-founder and director of Vocallective, an organization of musicians that promotes the art of vocal chamber music.[9] Indre Viskontas is also a co-founder of Opera on Tap, "a non-profit organization whose mission is to make opera as ubiquitous and accessible as pop music"[10][11]

Media and appearancesEdit

Viskontas at CSICon 2011.

Viskontas co-hosted a television show called Miracle Detectives with Randall Sullivan. Six episodes aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network beginning in January 2011.[12] The show examined mysterious events from both a scientific view (represented by Viskontas) and a faith-based view (represented by Sullivan).[13] The show's topics included claims of supernatural healing and other reported miracles.[12] According to Viskontas, her role on Miracle Detectives was to "get people to think more deeply about what they believe without threat or disrespect."[14]

In 2012 Viskontas joined Chris Mooney as co-host of Point of Inquiry, "The Radio Show and Podcast of the Center for Inquiry".[15][16] In June 2013 Viskontas, Mooney, and show producer Adam Isaak resigned from the Center for Inquiry and announced plans for a new podcast.[17] The first episode of the new podcast, Inquiring Minds, was released in September 2013.[18]

Viskontas has appeared on several other television shows including The Oprah Winfrey Show, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, Access Hollywood, E!, and TV Guide. She has contributed to several well-known podcasts including Token Skeptic,[19] This Week in Science,[20] and Strange Frequencies Radio.[9][21]

Viskontas participated in a panel discussion on skepticism and the media at the 2011 Committee for Skeptical Inquiry convention CSICon in New Orleans.[22] She participated again at CSICon 2012 in Nashville on a panel discussion on memory and belief.[23]


  1. ^ Lapas, Ramuné (January 2011). "Imigrantų iš Lietuvos dukra tapo naujojo O. Winfrey televizijos kanalo veidu". Amerikos Leituvis. 2.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b c "Dr. Kiki's Science Hour 108". Retrieved 2012-10-03.
  4. ^ a b "Indre Viskontas". University of California, San Francisco. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  5. ^ "Taylor & Francis Online". Taylor & Francis. Retrieved 2012-11-09.
  6. ^ Chinn, Hain-Ting; Schickele (24 August 2012). "Scopes Monkey Choir". Episode 84. Archived from the original on 5 October 2012. Retrieved 13 October 2012.
  7. ^ "SFCM's Largest Graduating Class Poised for a Musical Future" (PDF). San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Opera on Tap: Artists". Opera on Tap. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  9. ^ a b "Viskontas Biography". Center for Inquiry. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  10. ^ operaontap. "operaontap". Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  11. ^ sfgate operaontap. "sfgate operaontap". The San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2 November 2012.
  12. ^ a b "Miracle Detectives". Oprah Winfrey Network. Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  13. ^ Daily Motion. "Miracle Detectives Cast Interview". Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  14. ^ Hill, Sharon (November–December 2011). "Getting People to Think More Deeply". Skeptical Inquirer. 35 (6). Retrieved 7 October 2012.
  15. ^ Point of Inquiry. "Point of Inquiry". Retrieved 5 November 2012.
  16. ^ Point of Inquiry (2012-02-27). "Point of Inquiry 2013-02-27". Retrieved 28 December 2013.
  17. ^ "Point of Inquiry Team Resigns". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  18. ^ Inquiring Minds on Facebook. "Inquiring Minds Podcast". Retrieved 1 January 2014.
  19. ^ "Token Skeptic". Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  20. ^ "This Week in Science". Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  21. ^ "Strange Frequencies Radio". PARA. Retrieved 16 October 2012.
  22. ^ Lavarnway, Julia (March 2012). "CSICon New Orleans 2011 - Where Meeting Awesome Skeptics Is As Easy As Saying 'Hello'". Skeptical Inquirer. 36 (2). Retrieved October 26, 2016.
  23. ^ Frazier, Kendrick (March 2013). "Ideas and Insights, Inquiries and Investigations". Skeptical Inquirer. 37 (2). Retrieved October 26, 2016.

External linksEdit