Jonas as a guest on the Lan­guage Neu­ro­science Pod­cast

Thanks to col­league Stephen Wil­son from Van­der­bilt Uni­ver­si­ty for invit­ing me to this con­ver­sa­tion!

The episode with Jonas is also avail­able on Spo­ti­fy.

— Ein deutsches automa­tisch erstelltes Tran­skript ist hier erhältlich (alle Über­set­zun­gen ohne Gewähr).

11. March 2021 by Jonas
Categories: Auditory Neuroscience, Auf deutsch, Media, Perception, Publications, Speech |

New Per­spec­tive paper in Neu­ron by Waschke et al.

We are excit­ed to share that for­mer Oble­ser­lab PhD stu­dent Leo Waschke, togeth­er with his new (Doug Gar­rett, Niels Kloost­er­man) and old (Jonas Obleser) lab has pub­lished an in-depth per­spec­tive piece in Neu­ron, with the provoca­tive title “Behav­ior need neur­al vari­abil­i­ty”.
Our arti­cle is essen­tial­ly a long and exten­sive trib­ute to the “sec­ond moment” of neur­al activ­i­ty, in sta­tis­ti­cal terms, essen­tial­ly: Vari­abil­i­ty — be it quan­ti­fied as vari­ance, entropy, or spec­tral slope — is the long-neglect­ed twin of aver­ages, and it holds great promise in under­stand­ing neur­al states (how does neur­al activ­i­ty dif­fer from one moment to the next?) and traits (how do indi­vid­u­als dif­fer from each oth­er?).
Con­grat­u­la­tions, Leo!

24. February 2021 by Felix Greuling
Categories: Ageing, EEG / MEG, fMRI, Papers, Publications |

Wel­come to new mem­bers Hon­gi Ngo and Markus Kem­per!

We would like to extend a warm wel­come to our new lab mem­bers:

Dr. Hong-Viet (“Hon­gi”) Ngo, who is a Uni Lübeck PhD alum­nus him­self, but joins us from the Don­ders Insti­tute and who is an avid expert on sleep, mem­o­ry, and audi­to­ry stim­u­la­tion to entrain slow-wave sleep activ­i­ty.

Markus Kem­per just grad­u­at­ed from Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck and is a trained acoustics engi­neer and audi­ol­o­gist, ready to embark on a PhD dis­sect­ing the psy­cho­log­i­cal and phys­i­o­log­i­cal real­i­ty of that elu­sive con­struct “lis­ten­ing effort”. Notably, Markus is fund­ed by a joint effort of the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck, and our Cam­pus neigh­bour and indus­try part­ner, the Deutsche Hörg­eräte Insti­tut, DHI (Ger­man Insti­tute of Hear­ing Aids).

What a time to make such career moves dur­ing a pan­dem­ic — good luck, and a pro­duc­tive and enjoy­able time to both of you!

11. November 2020 by Jonas
Categories: Editorial Notes |

New paper in Schiz­o­phre­nia Bul­letin Open: Erb et al., Aber­rant per­cep­tu­al judge­ments on speech-rel­e­vant acoustic fea­tures in hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone indi­vid­u­als

Hal­lu­ci­na­tions – per­cepts in the absence of an exter­nal stim­u­lus – con­sti­tute an intrigu­ing mod­el of how per­cepts are gen­er­at­ed and how per­cep­tion can fail. They can occur in psy­chot­ic dis­or­ders, but also in the gen­er­al pop­u­la­tion.
Healthy adults vary­ing in their pre­dis­po­si­tion to hal­lu­ci­na­tions were asked to iden­ti­fy “speech” in ambigu­ous sounds. Lis­ten­ers qual­i­fy­ing as more hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone in two estab­lished ques­tion­naires per­cep­tu­al­ly down-weight­ed the speech-typ­i­cal low fre­quen­cies (pur­ple sub­group in the fig­ure for illus­tra­tion). Instead, the hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone indi­vid­u­als pri­ori­tised high fre­quen­cies in their “speech­i­ness” judge­ments of ambigu­ous sounds.
At the same time, the high­er one scored on hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone­ness, the more con­fi­dent on a giv­en (always ambigu­ous!) tri­al they were. Hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone­ness and actu­al sen­so­ry evi­dence had a com­pa­ra­ble impact on con­fi­dence, con­sis­tent with the idea that the emer­gence of hal­lu­ci­na­tions is root­ed in an altered per­cep­tion of sounds.
This research may con­tribute to improv­ing ear­ly diag­no­sis and pre­ven­tion strate­gies in
indi­vid­u­als at risk for psy­chosis.

From the abstract:
“Hal­lu­ci­na­tions con­sti­tute an intrigu­ing mod­el of how per­cepts are gen­er­at­ed and how per­cep­tion can fail. Here, we inves­ti­gate the hypoth­e­sis that an altered per­cep­tu­al weight­ing of the spec­tro-tem­po­ral mod­u­la­tions that char­ac­ter­ize speech con­tributes to the emer­gence of audi­to­ry ver­bal hal­lu­ci­na­tions. Healthy adults (N=168) vary­ing in their pre­dis­po­si­tion for hal­lu­ci­na­tions had to choose the ‘more speech-like’ of two pre­sent­ed ambigu­ous sound tex­tures and give a con­fi­dence judge­ment. Using psy­chophys­i­cal reverse cor­re­la­tion, we quan­ti­fied the con­tri­bu­tion of dif­fer­ent acoustic fea­tures to a listener’s per­cep­tu­al deci­sions. High­er hal­lu­ci­na­tion prone­ness covar­ied with per­cep­tu­al down-weight­ing of speech-typ­i­cal, low-fre­quen­cy acoustic ener­gy while pri­ori­tis­ing high fre­quen­cies. Remark­ably, high­er con­fi­dence judge­ments in sin­gle tri­als depend­ed not only on acoustic evi­dence but also on an individual’s hal­lu­ci­na­tion prone­ness and schizo­typy score. In line with an account of altered per­cep­tu­al pri­ors and dif­fer­en­tial weight­ing of sen­so­ry evi­dence, these results show that hal­lu­ci­na­tion-prone indi­vid­u­als exhib­it qual­i­ta­tive and quan­ti­ta­tive changes in their per­cep­tion of the mod­u­la­tions typ­i­cal for speech.”
The paper is avail­able here.

03. November 2020 by Felix Greuling
Categories: Uncategorized |

We’re hir­ing (again): DFG-fund­ed 3‑year PhD posi­tion, apply by July 12 2020

05. July 2020 by Jonas
Categories: Ageing, Degraded Acoustics, Editorial Notes, Executive Functions, Job Offers, Uncategorized |

New paper in eLife: Erb et al., Tem­po­ral selec­tiv­i­ty declines in the aging human audi­to­ry cor­tex

Con­grat­u­la­tions to Oble­ser­lab post­doc Julia Erb for her new paper to appear in eLife, “Tem­po­ral selec­tiv­i­ty declines in the aging human audi­to­ry cor­tex”.

It’s a trope that old­er lis­ten­ers strug­gle more in com­pre­hend­ing speech (think of Pro­fes­sor Tour­nesol in the famous Tintin comics!). The neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of why and how age­ing and speech com­pre­hen­sion dif­fi­cul­ties are linked at all has proven much more elu­sive, how­ev­er.

Part of this lack of knowl­edge is direct­ly root­ed in our lim­it­ed under­stand­ing of how the cen­tral parts of the hear­ing brain – audi­to­ry cor­tex, broad­ly speak­ing – are orga­nized.

Does audi­to­ry cor­tex of old­er adults have dif­fer­ent tun­ing prop­er­ties? That is, do young and old­er adults dif­fer in the way their audi­to­ry sub­fields rep­re­sent cer­tain fea­tures of sound?

A spe­cif­ic hypoth­e­sis fol­low­ing from this, derived from what is known about age-relat­ed change in neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal and psy­cho­log­i­cal process­es in gen­er­al (the idea of so-called “ded­if­fer­en­ti­a­tion”), was that the tun­ing to cer­tain fea­tures would “broad­en” and thus lose selec­tiv­i­ty in old­er com­pared to younger lis­ten­ers.

More mech­a­nis­ti­cal­ly, we aimed to not only observe so-called “cross-sec­tion­al” (i.e., age-group) dif­fer­ences, but to link a listener’s chrono­log­i­cal age as close­ly as pos­si­ble to changes in cor­ti­cal tun­ing.

Amongst old­er lis­ten­ers, we observe that tem­po­ral-rate selec­tiv­i­ty declines with high­er age. In line with senes­cent neur­al ded­if­fer­en­ti­a­tion more gen­er­al­ly, our results high­light decreased selec­tiv­i­ty to tem­po­ral infor­ma­tion as a hall­mark of the aging audi­to­ry cor­tex.

This research is gen­er­ous­ly sup­port­ed by the ERC Con­sol­ida­tor project AUDADAPT, and data for this study were acquired at the CBBM at Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck.

03. July 2020 by Jonas
Categories: Ageing, Auditory Cortex, Auditory Neuroscience, Auditory Perception, fMRI, Hearing Loss, Papers, Perception, Psychology, Publications |

New paper in press in Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia

Wöst­mann, Lui, Friese, Kre­it­e­wolf, Nau­jokat and Obleser demon­strate that the vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty of work­ing mem­o­ry to audi­to­ry dis­trac­tion is rhyth­mic.

Pre­vi­ous research has shown that the atten­tion­al sam­pling of tar­get stim­uli is rhyth­mic at ~3–8 Hz (e.g. Fiebelko­rn et al. 2013; Lan­dau & Fries, 2012). In the present study, Malte Wöst­mann and col­leagues test­ed to what extent the sup­pres­sion of dis­trac­tor stim­uli would be rhyth­mic, as well. Indeed, two mea­sures of dis­trac­tion – mem­o­ry recall accu­ra­cy and the dis­trac­tor-evoked N1 ERP com­po­nent – were peri­od­i­cal­ly mod­u­lat­ed at slow fre­quen­cies (~2–4 Hz) by the tem­po­ral onset of a dis­tract­ing speech stim­u­lus.

In a fol­low-up exper­i­ment, the rhyth­mic dis­tractibil­i­ty could be repli­cat­ed: In a visu­al match-to-sam­ple task, mem­o­ry recall accu­ra­cy was peri­od­i­cal­ly mod­u­lat­ed at ~2.75 Hz by the onset of a dis­tract­ing noise stim­u­lus dur­ing mem­o­ry reten­tion.

The paper is avail­able here.

For a preprint of the paper, see 

15. June 2020 by Felix Greuling
Categories: Uncategorized |

We are hir­ing! 4‑y post­doc­tor­al posi­tion

There is now an open­ing for an up-to-4-year (!) post­doc posi­tion in my lab for late summer/fall. Join us in Lübeck, Ger­many, and do cool behav­iour­al and neu­ro­science on neur­al dynam­ics, age­ing, sen­so­ry decline with us!

The appli­ca­tion dead­line (as sin­gle PDF to the email address named in the add!) is June 7 2020, see Ger­man and Eng­lish PDFs for all details.

Feel free to ring me up any time if you are inter­est­ed in chat­ting before­hand. Look­ing for­ward to many inter­est­ing appli­ca­tions!

— J.O.

13. May 2020 by Jonas
Categories: Editorial Notes, Job Offers, Uncategorized |

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