Sandra Trehub

Professor Emeritus
Place of Birth: 
Montreal, Quebec
First Year Employed at UTM/U of T: 
Department / Division: 

The Mississauga community views UTM as an important resource, which facilitates the recruitment of infants and children for my research.

Sandra Trehub

Sandra Trehub, professor emeritus of psychology, was the second developmental psychologist hired at Erindale College, and as befits a pioneer, she blazed a trail that led to international renown. She joined the faculty directly from her PhD studies in 1973.

“I had many job offers then and over the years, but U of T was a great place for me, UTM in particular,” Trehub says. “The suburban locale and access to growing families were well-suited to my research with infants.”

Trehub specializes in music perception in infants and young children, maternal singing, and their consequences for social and emotional regulation.

“I developed the first laboratory devoted to music perception in infants, which necessitated specialized facilities and research methods,” she says. “Over the years, many faculty members and graduate students from American, European and Asian universities have visited the lab to learn about these methods and how to institute them elsewhere.”

Trehub was a founder of UTM’s lauded Infant and Child Studies Centre, which has grown to include research on language, cognitive, and social-emotional development. She was also instrumental in launching the undergraduate program in Exceptionality in Human Learning, which focuses on the developmental implications of disability and difference. It was the first UTM program with a practicum component, which gave students the opportunity of working with some of the populations they were studying.

Trehub taught undergraduate and graduate psychology courses and supervised the research of numerous undergraduates, graduate students and post-doctoral fellows.

“My greatest teaching successes involved one-on-one mentoring in my lab, where I could foster critical thinking and problem-solving skills and encourage students to pursue graduate or professional degrees,” she says.

“In the early years of UTM, the relatively small campus and student body created a family-like atmosphere, where it was easy to spot promising students and help them become super-achievers.”

Although officially retired, Trehub continues to run her research lab and supervise graduate students.

“Retirement does not end one’s passion for knowledge and scholarship,” she says.


Selected Awards:

  • Lifetime achievement award, 2013, Society for Music Perception and Cognition

  • Kurt Koffka Medal, 2012, to honour scientists who "advanced the fields of perception or developmental psychology to an extraordinary extent”, Giessen University, Germany

  • Fellow, 2009, Association for Psychological Science, awarded to members who have made sustained outstanding contributions to the science of psychology in the areas of research, teaching, service and/or application


Selected Publications:

  • Trehub, S. E. (2003). The developmental origins of musicality. Nature Neuroscience, 6, 669-673. Infants are sensitive to universal features of music, and parents across cultures sing to infants in the course of caregiving.

  • Trehub, S. E., Bull, D., & Thorpe, L. A. (1984). Infants' perception of melodies: The role of melodic contourChild Development, 55, 821-830. Infants perceive melodies globally, focusing in particular on the pitch contours. 

  • Hannon, E. E., & Trehub, S. E. (2005). Tuning in to musical rhythms: Infants learn more readily than adultsProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America102, 12639-12643. By 12 months of age, infants are differentially sensitive to the rhythms of their musical culture, and they outperform adults at learning foreign rhythms.