Reyna L. Gordon, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Psychology
Director, Music Cognition Lab
Associate Director, Program for Music, Mind and Society at Vanderbilt


Reyna L. Gordon, Ph.D.

Contact Info

(615) 322-3086



MCE 10267

Overview of Interests

Overview of Interests

Dr. Gordon is a cognitive neuroscientist and is the Director of the Music Cognition Lab in the Department of Otolaryngology, at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Her primary research interests pertain to the genetics and brain mechanisms underlying individual differences in music abilities and how they relate to language and social skills.

Her graduate research used brain and behavioral methods to investigate the linguistic and musical aspects of song and speech prosody, adding to current understanding of the comparison or neural resources used by language and music. Her postdoctoral research investigated language and music cognition in typical and atypical development at the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, where she conducted a number of studies that investigated auditory processing in individuals with developmental disabilities, such as Specific Language Impairment, Williams Syndrome, and MECP2 duplication syndrome. Her current efforts involve collaborations with the Vanderbilt Genetics Institute, music interventions for children with Specific Language Impairment (SLI), and investigating the role of rhythm in the development of grammar skills, with a focus on atypical rhythm development in children with Specific Language Impairment.

Dr. Gordon also helped found the Program for Music, Mind & Society at Vanderbilt ( , a campus-wide initiative to facilitate cross-disciplinary collaborations with music researchers. She now serves as the Associate Director for the program.

Research Interests:

  • Relationship between rhythm and language development in children. This work is currently focused on investigating: 1) associations between rhythm perception/production and grammar skills in children with typical and atypical development, 2) neural and behavioral mechanisms underlying these associations (i.e., speech rhythm sensitivity and auditory working memory), and 3) the potential of musical training to improve language skills in children with language disorders.
  • Investigating musical experiences as a tool for social engagement in children with autism spectrum disorders. This work is being carried out in collaboration with Dr. Miriam Lense, a Research Instructor in the Department of Otoloaryngology, and TRIAD.


  • Articles and Publications:

    • Gordon R.L.. Fehd H.M., McCandliss B.D. (2015). Does Music Training Enhance Literacy Skills? A Meta-Analysis. Frontiers in Psychology.
    • Gordon, R.L., Shivers, C.M., Wieland, E.A., Kotz, S.A., Yoder, P.J., McAuley, J.D. (2014). Musical rhythm discrimination explains individual differences in grammar skills in children. Developmental Science. Click here to view the abstract.
    • Lense, M.D., Gordon, R.L., Key, A. P., Dykens, E.M. (2013). Neural Correlates of Cross-Modal Affective Priming by Music in Williams Syndrome. Social, Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience 9(4), pp.529-37. Click here to view the paper.
    • Gordon, R.L., Jacobs, M.S., Schuele, C.M., McAuley, J.D. (2015) Perspectives on the rhythm-grammar link and its implications for typical and atypical language development. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1337, pp. 16-25.
    • Gordon, R.L., Magne, C.L., Large, E.W. (2011). EEG Correlates of Song Prosody: A new look at the relationship between linguistic and musical rhythm. Frontiers in Psychology: Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience 2(352), pp. 1-13.
    • Gordon, R.L., Schön, D., Magne, C., Astésano, C., Besson, M. (2010). Words and melody are intertwined in perception of sung words: EEG and behavioral evidence. PLoS ONE 5(3): e9889, pp. 1-12.
    • Magne, C., Jordan, D., Gordon, R.L. (2016). Speech Rhythm Sensitivity and Musical Aptitude: ERPs and Individual Differences. Brain & Language. 153 (13-19). [Journal impact factor: 3.21]

    See more at:


    View Biographical Sketch (.pdf)


    ID: 16141

    Back to the people index