|Residence||San Francisco, California, U.S.|
|Institutions||San Francisco Conservatory of Music, University of California, San Francisco|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles, PhD (2006); San Francisco Conservatory of Music, MM (2008)|
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.
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." 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.
Viskontas has studied opera since she was a young child and performed for the Canadian Opera Company when she was only 11 years old. She continued to study music throughout her life even while working towards her Ph.D. in neuroscience. 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.
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. 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. 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”
Media and appearances
Viskontas co-hosted a television show called Miracle Detectives with Randall Sullivan. Six episodes aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network beginning in January 2011. The show examined mysterious events from both a scientific view (represented by Viskontas) and a faith-based view (represented by Sullivan). The show's topics included claims of supernatural healing and other reported miracles. According to Viskontas, her role on Miracle Detectives was to "get people to think more deeply about what they believe without threat or disrespect."
In 2012 Viskontas joined Chris Mooney as co-host of Point of Inquiry, "The Radio Show and Podcast of the Center for Inquiry". In June 2013 Viskontas, Mooney, and producer show producer Adam Isaak resigned from the Center for Inquiry and announced plans for a new podcast. The first episode of the new podcast, Inquiring Minds, was released in September 2013.
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, This Week in Science, and Strange Frequencies Radio.
Viskontas participated in a panel discussion on skepticism and the media at the 2011 Committee for Skeptical Inquiry convention CSICon in New Orleans. She participated again at CSICon 2012 in Nashville on a panel discussion on memory and belief.
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