Denise Klein, PhD

Contact Information

Email: denise.klein [at] mcgill.ca (Denise Klein)
Tel.: 514-398-3134
Website: Lab website
Recent Publications: PubMed
Academic Affiliations: Neurology and Neurosurgery
Research Groups: Cognitive Neuroscience, Epilepsy


Dr. Klein obtained her Ph.D. at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa. Dr. Klein’s thesis research focused on developmental reading problems in bilingual children.  She came to the MNI in 1992 as a postdoctoral fellow to work with Dr. Brenda Milner.  Dr. Klein’s arrival at the MNI coincided with the emerging use of functional neuroimaging techniques to study the neural representation of language.

Dr. Klein has played a leading role in the development of the MNI’s research program using positron emission tomography (PET) combined with magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and more recently, functional MRI, to measure regional changes in cerebral blood flow during the performance of various language tasks. Dr Klein’s early work pioneered the use of brain imaging for the study of bilingualism, and provided a spring board for current debates about bilingual brain organization. Dr Klein’s current research program aims to understand how language experience influences and shapes brain organization.

The results of her brain imaging studies have also had considerable clinical relevance, helping to map out functional language areas in patients with focal brain lesions who are about to undergo brain surgery involving cortex bordering on critical speech areas. Dr. Klein is currently responsible for running a presurgical functional brain mapping program at the MNI that integrates anatomical MRI, functional MRI and PET to facilitate preoperative diagnostic procedures in patients with brain lesions such as tumours, epileptic foci and vascular malformations that are in close proximity to areas of the brain that are critical to movement, vision, sensation, or language.

Selected Publications: 

Bilingualism and language learning experiences

*Pierce., L.J., Klein, D., Chen, J-K., & Genesee, F. (2014). Mapping the unconscious maintenance of a lost first language. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA. In press.

Klein, D, Mok, K. Chen, J, and Watkins, K. (2014). Age of language learning shapes brain structure: A cortical thickness study of bilingual and monolingual individuals. Special Edition Brain and Language (ed. M. Petrides). 2014 Apr; 131:20-24. doi: 10.1016/j.bandl.2013.05.014. Epub 2013 Jun 29.

*Penicaud, S., Klein, D., Zatorre, R., Chen J., Witcher, P., Hyde K., and Mayberry, R.   (2013). Structural brain changes linked to delayed first language acquisition in congenitally deaf individuals. NeuroImage, 66, 42-49.

Mayberry R.I, Chen J-K, Witcher P. Klein D.  (2011). Age of acquisition effects on the functional organization of language in the adult brain, Brain and Language. 119, 16–29

Klein D, Zatorre RJ, Chen J-K., Milner B, Crane J. Belin P., Bouffard M. (2006). Bilingual brain organization: A functional magnetic resonance adaptation study. Neuroimage, 31: 366-375.

Klein, D, Watkins, K., Zatorre R.J., Milner B. (2006). Word and nonword repetition in bilingual subjects: A PET study. Journal of Human Brain Mapping, 27: 153-161.

Klein, D., Zatorre, R.J., Milner, B., Zhao, V. (2001). A cross-linguistic PET study of tone perception in Mandarin Chinese and English speakers. NeuroImage, 13, 646-653. 

Klein, D., Milner, B., Zatorre, R.J., Meyer, E., and Evans, A. (1995). The neural substrates underlying word generation: a bilingual functional-imaging study. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. USA, 92, 2899-2903.

Klein, D., Zatorre, R.J., Milner, B., Meyer, E. and Evans, A.C. (1994). Left putaminal activation when speaking a second language: Evidence from PET. NeuroReport, 17 (5), 2295-2297.

Pre-treatment brain mapping

*La Piana, R., Bourassa-Blanchette, S., Klein, D.,  Mok, K. Cortes, M., Tampieri, D. (2013). Brain reorganization after endovascular treatment in a patient with large arteriovenous malformation: the role of diagnostic and functional neuroimaging techniques. Interventional Neuroradiology, 19:329-38

*Colnat-Coulbois, S., Mok, K., Klein, D., Penicaud, S., Tanriverdi, T  and Olivier, A. (2010).  Tractography of Amygdala and Hippocampus: Anatomical study and application to selective amygdalo-hippocampectomy. Journal of Neurosurgery, 113:1135-43.

*La Piana R., Klein D., Cortes, M., and Tampieri D. (2009) Speech reorganization after an AVM bleed cured by embolization: A case report and review of literature. Interventional Neuroradiology. Vol 15. 456-461.

Klein, D. (2003). A positron emission tomography study of presurgical language mapping in a bilingual patient with a left posterior temporal cavernous angioma, Journal of Neurolinguistics, 16, 417-427.

Klein, D., Olivier, A., Milner B., Zatorre RJ., Johnsrude, I., Meyer. E., and Evans, AC. (1997) Obligatory role of the LIFG in synonym generation: Evidence from PET and cortical stimulation. NeuroReport, 8 (15), 3275-3279.