Sylvia Villeneuve, PhD

Sylvia Villeneuve, PhD



6875 Boulevard LaSalle
Montréal, QC
H4H 1R3

 Office:E-3417.1, Perry Pavilion

 Office phone: (514) 761-6131 x3960

  Lab website:

Canada Research Chair in Early Detection of Alzheimer’s Disease – Tier 2

Researcher, Douglas Research Centre
Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry, McGill University

Lab name: Multimodal imaging of the aging brain

Theme-Based Group: Aging, Cognition, and Alzheimer’s Disease
Division: Human Neuroscience


Our team uses multimodal neuroimaging (MRI and PET) to investigate brain changes associated with age and neurodegeneratives diseases, such as Alzheimer disease (AD).

Our main objectives are:

1) The identification of cerebral markers, alone or in combination with other biomarkers such as genetic or cognitive markers, for identifying individuals at the preclinical stage of AD.

2) Studying the associations between different markers of AD (e.g. amyloid accumulation and brain atrophy) in order to better understand the underlying pathophysiological mechanisms of the disease.

3) The identification of markers that track the progression of the disease and allow testing new pharmacological and non-pharmacological therapies.

4) The assessment of risk and protective factors (e.g. nutrition and vascular diseases) that can modify the link between these markers and therefore possibly postpone the appearance of the clinical symptoms associated with AD.

Our measures of interest are:

⁃ MRI scans (to quantify structural and functional changes)
⁃ PET scans (to quantify amyloid and tau deposition)
⁃ Neuropsychological evaluation (to quantify early cognitive changes)
⁃ Vascular health (vascular disease and lipid fractions)
⁃ Gene-environment interactions

Dr. Villeneuve received a PhD from the Université de Montréal in 2011, where she was looking at the nature of memory deficits in vascular and non-vascular individuals with mild cognitive impairments. She did a first postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California Berkeley assessing the interplay between beta-amyloid deposition, vascular diseases and cognition in the preclinical phase of Alzheimer’s disease. She did a second postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University where she assessed the predictive value of neurovascular insults, such as deterioration of the blood-brain barrier or reduced cerebral vascular reactivity, to detect early changes associated with amyloid pathology. Dr. Villeneuve is an Assistant Professor at McGill since 2015 and a member of the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec since 2009.

FRQS, Postdoctoral Fellowship (2014-2015)
CIHR, Postdoctoral Fellowship, highest ranking in aging (2012-2015)
Human Amyloid Imaging Young Investigator Award (2014)
Alzheimer’s Associations award for young scientists in Northern California (2013)
ICRH-CIHR top Publication Award for Young Investigator (2013)
CIHR Brain Star Award (2012)
CIHR Recognition Prize in Research in Aging (2011)
ÉCOGÈNE-21, Postdoctoral Fellowship (2010-2011)
CIHR in collaboration with the Aging Institute, PhD Scholarship (2006-2009)
FORMSAV, PhD Scholarship (2006-2009)
CIHR Age Plus Prize (2009)

Principal Investigator:
Sylvia Villeneuve, PhD

Graduate Students:
Alexa Pichet Binette, MSc
Jacob Vogel, BA

Villeneuve S*, Rabinovici G*, Cohn-Sheehy B, Madison C, Ayakta N, Ghosh PM, Madison C, La Joie R, Arthur-Bentil SK, Vogel J, Marks S, Lehmann M, Rosen H, Reed B, Olichney J, DeCarli C, Miller BL, Borys E, Grinberg LT, Jin LW, Seeley WW & Jagust W. Existing PIB Thresholds are Too High: Statistical and Pathological Validation. Brain. 2015;7:2020-2033. doi: 10.1093/brain/awv112.

Villeneuve S, Wirth M & La Joie R. Are AD-typical regions the convergence point of multiple pathologies? Front Aging Neurosci. 2015 doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2015.00042

Villeneuve S & Jagust W. Imaging Vascular Disease and Amyloid in the Aging Brain: Implications for Treatment. J Prev Alz Dis 2015;2:64-70.

Villeneuve S, Reed B, Madison C, Wirth M, Kriger S, Marchant N, Mack W, Sanossian N, DeCarli C, Chui H, Weiner M. & Jagust W. Vascular risk and cerebral β-amyloid interact to reduce cortical thickness. Neurology, 2014;83:1-8.

Wirth M, Haase C, Villeneuve S, Vogel J. & Jagust W. Neuroprotective Pathways: Lifestyle activity, brain pathology and cognition in cognitively normal older adults. Neurobiol Aging. 2014;35:1873-1882.

Villeneuve S, Reed B, Wirth M, Madison C, Haase C. Ayakta N., M. Mack W, Sanossian N., DeCarli C, Chui H, Weiner M. & Jagust W. Cortical thickness mediates the impact of β-amyloid on episodic memory. Neurology. 2014;82:761-767.

Reed B, Villeneuve S, Mack W, DeCarli C, Chui H, Jagust H, Serum Lipids and Cerebral Amyloidosis in Persons with Elevated Vascular Risk. JAMA Neurology. 2014;71:195-200.

Villeneuve S, Brisson D. Marchant N & Gaudet D. The role of Apolipoprotein E in personalized medicine. Front Aging Neurosci. 2014 doi: 10.3389/fnagi.2014.00154.

Wirth M, Villeneuve S, La Joie R, Marks S. & Jagust W. Gene-Environment interactions: Lifetime cognitive activity, APOE genotype, and beta-amyloid burden. 2014 J Neurosci. 2014;34:8612-8617.

Wirth M, Villeneuve S, Madison C, Oh H, Rabinovici G. & Jagust W. Associations between Alzheimer’s disease biomarkers, neurodegeneration, and cognition in normal older people. JAMA Neurology. 2013;70:1512-1519.

Oh H, Madison C, Villeneuve S, Markley C. & Jagust W. Association of gray matter atrophy with age, β-amyloid, and cognition in aging. Cerebral Cortex, 2013, Epub ahead of print. PMID: 23389995

Chao LL, DeCarli C, Kriger S, Truran D, Zhang Y, Laxamana J, Villeneuve S, Jagust WJ, Sanossian N, Mack W, Chui HC & Weiner MW. Associations between white matter hyperintensities and β amyloid on integrity of projection, association, and limbic fiber tracts measured with diffusion tensor MRI PLOSone. 2013, 8: e65175.

Villeneuve S. & Belleville S. The nature of memory failure in mild cognitive impairment: examining association with neurobiological markers and effect of progression, Neurobiol Aging. 2012; 33:1967-1978.

Villeneuve S, Massoud F, Bocti C, Gauthier S. & Belleville S. The nature of episodic memory deficits in MCI with and without vascular burden, Neuropsychologia. 2011; 49:3027-3035.

Villeneuve S, Belleville S, Massoud F, Bocti C. & Gauthier S. The impact of vascular risk factors and diseases on cognition in persons with mild cognitive impairment, Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2009; 27:375-381.

Lab images - click to view:

video_villeneuve_brain_2015_looping 3 villeneuve-brain-2015 1