Dr. Sara Tremblay

Dr. Sara Tremblay
Dr. Sara Tremblay
Adjunct Professor, Scientist, The Royal Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR)

BSc Psychology, University of Montreal
PhD Psychology/Neuropsychology, University of Montreal
Postdoctoral Fellow, University College London
Postdoctoral Fellow, Centre for Mental Health and Addiction

The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research, 1145 Carling Ave. room 6463
613-722-6521 ext. 6227


Dr. Sara Tremblay is a Scientist at the Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR). She was strategically recruited through the Emerging Research Innovators in Mental Health (eRIMh) award, to develop brain stimulation research at the IMHR. She is a registered Neuropsychologist with the Ordre des Psychologues du Québec. Dr. Tremblay obtained her Ph.D. (Clinical/Research) in Neuropsychology in 2015 at Université de Montréal. Her thesis work was in the field of neurophysiology and neuroscience, and focused on identifying a neurobiological marker of the long-term impact of sport-related concussions on brain function using neuromodulation techniques, such as transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), and neuroimaging. She then pursued a postdoctoral fellowship in Neurology at University College London (London, UK), where her work focused on devising new neuromodulation protocols. She then completed a second postdoctoral fellowship at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto, where she worked on the optimization of neuromodulation treatments for mental health disorders using neurophysiology. Since arriving in Ottawa in July 2018, she is developing a neuromodulation research program that involves both development of methods and clinical applications for therapeutic interventions.

Neural basis of neuromodulation

The first focus of Dr. Tremblay’s current work is on using neuroimaging and neurophysiological methods to provide insights into the mechanisms of action of neuromodulation methods, such as repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS). Specifically, she investigates how rTMS can modify normal brain activity at the metabolic and network levels using positron emission tomography (PET), resting state functional magnetic resonance imaging (rs-fMRI) and interleaved TMS and electroencephalography (TMS-EEG). Overall, these studies will help improve current rTMS paradigms in order to provide more reliable and efficient protocols for treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders.

Optimization of neuromodulation methods in psychiatry

Dr. Tremblay’s second line of research aims at identifying neural predictors of response to neuromodulation treatment in mental health disorders. With this work, her goal is to develop objective neural measures of treatment response in major depressive disorder and to identify specific neural profiles that make an individual more susceptible to respond to one neuromodulation technique as opposed to another treatment. To do so, she is using neuroimaging and neurophysiological tools to track response to rTMS treatments.

Selected publications

  • Tremblay, S., Rogasch, N.C., Premoli, I., Blumberger, D.M., Casarotto, S., Chen, R., Di Lazzaro, V., Farzan, F., Ferrarelli, F., Fitzgerald, P., Hui, J., Ilmoniemi, R., Kimiskidis, V.K., Kugiumtzis, D., Lioumis, P., Pascual-Leone, A., Pellicciari, M.C., Rajji, T., Thut, G., Zomorrodi, R., Ziemann, U., Daskalakis, Z.J. (2019) Clinical utility and prospective of TMS-EEG. Clinical Neurophysiology, In press.
  • Tremblay, S., Pascual-Leone, A., & Théoret, H. (2018). A review of the effects of physical activity and sports concussion on brain function and anatomy. International journal of psychophysiology. 132, 167-175.
  • Tremblay, S., Hannah, R., Rawji, V., & Rothwell, J. C. (2017). Modulation of iTBS after-effects via concurrent directional TDCS: a proof of principle study. Brain Stimulation, 10(4), 744-747.
  • Tremblay S, Austin D, Hannah R, Rothwell JC. (2016) Non-invasive brain stimulation as a tool to study cerebellar-M1 interactions in humans. Cerebellum & Ataxias. 3(1):19.
  • Tremblay S, Lafleur LP, Proulx S, Beaulé V, Latulipe-Loiselle A, Doyon J, Marjańska M, Théoret H. (2016) The effects of bi-hemispheric M1-M1 transcranial direct current stimulation on primary motor cortex neurophysiology and metabolite concentration. Restorative neurology and neuroscience. 34(4):587-602.
  • Tremblay S, Larochelle-Brunet F, Lafleur LP, El Mouderrib S, Lepage JF, Théoret H. (2016) Systematic assessment of duration and intensity of anodal transcranial direct current stimulation on primary motor cortex excitability. European Journal of Neuroscience. 44(5):2184-90.
  • Tremblay S, Vernet M, Bashir S, Pascual-Leone A, Théoret H. (2015). Theta burst stimulation to characterize changes in brain plasticity following mild traumatic brain injury: A proof-of-principle study. Restorative Neurology and Neuroscience. 33(5): 611-620
  • Tremblay S, Lepage JF, Latulipe-Loiselle A, Fregni F, Théoret H. (2014) The uncertain outcome of prefrontal tDCS. Brain Stimulation. 7(6):773-783.
  • Tremblay S, Beaulé V, Proulx S, Tremblay S, Marjańska M, Doyon J, Lassonde M, Théoret H. (2014) Multimodal assessment of primary motor cortex integrity following sport concussion in asymptomatic athletes, Clinical Neurophysiology, 125(7):1371-9.
  • Tremblay S, Beaulé V, Proulx S, Lafleur LP, Doyon J, Marjańska M, Théoret H. (2014) The use of magnetic resonance spectroscopy as a tool for the measurement of bi-hemispheric transcranial electric stimulation effects on primary motor cortex metabolism. Journal of Visualized Experiments. Nov 19;(93) e51631.
  • Tremblay S, Beaulé V, Proulx S, De Beaumon L, Marjańska M, Doyon J, Pascual-Leone A, Lassonde M, Théoret H. (2013) Relationship between transcranial magnetic stimulation measures of intracortical inhibition and spectroscopy measures of GABA and glutamate+glutamine, Journal of Neurophysiology, 13; 1343-49
  • Tremblay S, Beaulé V, Lepage JF, Théoret H. (2013) Anodal transcranial direct current stimulation modulates GABAB-related intracortical inhibition in M1 of healthy individuals, Neuroreport, 24(1); 46-50
  • Tremblay S, De Beaumont L, Théoret H. (2011) Evidence for the specificity of GABA-mediated intracortical inhibitiory dysfunction in asymptomatic concussed athletes. Journal of Neurotrauma, 28(4), 493–502.

Research interests

  • Brain stimulation
  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation
  • Mental health disorders
  • Depression
  • Neurophysiology
  • Neuroimaging
  • Traumatic brain injury