Assal Habibi is an assistant research professor of psychology at the Brain and Creativity Institute at University of Southern California. Her research takes a broad perspective on how biological dispositions and environmental factors interact and how learning experiences during childhood shape human development. She is an expert in the use of electrophysiologic and neuroimaging methods to investigate human brain structure and function and her research has been published in several peer reviewed journals. Assal completed her doctoral work at UC Irvine, investigating the effects of musical training in musicians, non-musicians and patients with auditory impairments. Currently, she is the lead investigator of a five-year longitudinal study, in collaboration with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and their Youth Orchestra programme, investigating the effects of childhood music training on brain, cognitive and social development. Assal is a classically trained pianist, and has many years of musical teaching experience with children.