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Editorial Notes

New lab mem­bers joining

As of Decem­ber 1, we will have two new mem­bers join­ing the Lab.

Björn Her­rmann very recent­ly received his Dr. rer. nat. from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leipzig, after doing method­olog­i­cal­ly advanced worked on MEG and fMRI cor­re­lates of ear­ly auditory–syntactic inter­ac­tions in lan­guage comprehension. 

Dun­ja Kunke is a trained audi­ol­o­gist and will help us gear up the audi­to­ry test­ing rou­tines in our lab; also, she will be of great help when we begin work­ing with hear­ing-impaired listeners.

A warm wel­come to both of you!

Categories
Auditory Speech Processing Degraded Acoustics EEG / MEG Neural Oscillations Noise-Vocoded Speech Papers Publications Speech

New paper accept­ed in Cere­bral Cor­tex [Update]

Obleser, J., Weisz, N. (in press) Sup­pressed alpha oscil­la­tions pre­dict intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of speech and its acoustic details. Cere­bral Cortex.

[Update]

Paper is avail­able here.

Ref­er­ences

  • Obleser J, Weisz N. Sup­pressed alpha oscil­la­tions pre­dict intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of speech and its acoustic details. Cereb Cor­tex. 2012 Nov;22(11):2466–77. PMID: 22100354. [Open with Read]
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Editorial Notes

The group is approach­ing cruis­ing altitude

Pic: Ker­stin Flake

I am glad to report that the lab is in full flight. (From left to right: ) Anna Wilsch, Julia Erb, Dr. Math­ias Scharinger, Dr. Mol­ly Hen­ry, and Antje Strauß have joined forces with me. We are hav­ing a splen­did time find­ing out more about speech, degra­da­tion of it, and the neur­al pro­cess­ing of it all. Stay tuned for great project work com­ing from these bright minds in the years to come.

NB – I hope you don’t mind that we chose the charm­ing back sides of Leipzig rather than our post­mod­ern Insti­tute build­ing as a back­ground. We actu­al­ly do work just 100 meters from this spot. Maybe we should make it our new hang-out spot and bring neu­ro­science to the streets?

Categories
Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Working Memory Clinical relevance EEG / MEG Neural Oscillations Papers Publications Speech

New paper out: Alpha oscil­la­tions in audition

I am also delight­ed to report the fruits of a very recent col­lab­o­ra­tion with Nathan Weisz and his OBOB lab at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Kon­stanz, Germany.

Alpha Rhythms in Audi­tion: Cog­ni­tive and Clin­i­cal Perspectives

In this review paper, which appears in the new, excit­ing “Fron­tiers in Psy­chol­o­gy” jour­nal, we sum the recent evi­dence that alpha oscil­la­tions (here broad­ly defined from 6 to 13 Hz) are play­ing a very inter­est­ing role in the audi­to­ry sys­tem, just as they do in the visu­al and the somatosen­so­ry system.

In essence, we back Ole Jensen’s and oth­ers’ quite pari­mo­nious idea of alpha as a func­tion­al inhi­bi­tion / gat­ing sys­tem across cor­ti­cal areas.

From our own lab, pre­lim­i­nary data from two recent exper­i­ments is includ­ed: On the role of alpha osil­la­tions as a poten­tial mark­er for speech intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty and its acoustic deter­mi­nants, as well as on speech degra­da­tion and work­ing mem­o­ry load and their com­bined reflec­tion in alpha pow­er increases.

 

NB — the final pdf is still lack­ing, and Front Psy­chol is still not list­ed in PubMed. This should not stop you from sub­mit­ting to their excit­ing new jour­nals, as the review process is very fair and effi­cient and the out­reach via free avail­abil­i­ty promis­es to be considerable.

Ref­er­ences

  • Weisz N, Hart­mann T, Müller N, Lorenz I, Obleser J. Alpha rhythms in audi­tion: cog­ni­tive and clin­i­cal per­spec­tives. Front Psy­chol. 2011 Apr 26;2:73. PMID: 21687444. [Open with Read]
Categories
Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception fMRI Linguistics Papers Publications Speech

New paper out: “Upstream del­e­ga­tion” for pro­cess­ing of com­plex syn­tax under degrad­ed acoustics

A new paper is about to appear in Neu­roim­age on the inter­ac­tion of syn­tac­tic com­plex­i­ty and acoustic degradation.

It is writ­ten by myself, PhD stu­dent Lars Mey­er, and Angela Friederi­ci. In a way, the paper brings togeth­er one of Angela’s main research ques­tions (which brain cir­cuits medi­ate the pro­cess­ing of syn­tax?) with a long-stand­ing inter­est of mine, that is, how do adverse lis­ten­ing sit­u­a­tions affect the com­pre­hen­sion of speech.

The paper is entitled

Dynam­ic assign­ment of neur­al resources in audi­to­ry com­pre­hen­sion of com­plex sentences

The paper first estab­lish­es that acoustic vari­ants of increas­ing­ly com­plex sen­tences essen­tial­ly behave like writ­ten ver­sions of these sentences.
The data then neat­ly show that pro­cess­ing chal­leng­ing (but legal) syn­tax under var­i­ous lev­els of degra­da­tion has a very dif­fer­ent effect on the neur­al cir­cuits involved than prof­it­ing from seman­tics: While the lat­ter has been shown pre­vi­ous­ly to involve more wide­spread, het­ero­modal brain areas, the dou­ble demand of increas­ing­ly com­plex syn­tax and an increas­ing­ly degrad­ed speech sig­nal (from which the com­plex syn­tax has to be parsed) elic­it an “upstream” shift of acti­va­tion back to less abstract pro­cess­ing areas in the supe­ri­or tem­po­ral and prefrontal/frontal cortex.

We ten­ta­tive­ly have termed this process “upstream del­e­ga­tion”. We have also tried and estab­lished a slight­ly unusu­al method to do jus­tice to the fMRI acti­va­tion data: We have includ­ed all z‑scores gath­ered along cer­tain spa­tial dimen­sions, irre­spec­tive of whether they were sub- or suprathresh­old, and have treat­ed them as dis­tri­b­u­tions. Check it out and let us know what you think.

Ref­er­ences

  • Obleser J, Mey­er L, Friederi­ci AD. Dynam­ic assign­ment of neur­al resources in audi­to­ry com­pre­hen­sion of com­plex sen­tences. Neu­roim­age. 2011 Jun 15;56(4):2310–20. PMID: 21421059. [Open with Read]
Categories
Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Speech Processing EEG / MEG Linguistics Papers Psychology Publications Speech

New paper out: Are ear­ly N100 and the late Gam­ma-band response neg­a­tive­ly cor­re­lat­ed in com­pre­hen­sion of degrad­ed speech?

Late 2010 was par­tic­u­lar­ly good to us:

Mul­ti­ple brain sig­na­tures of inte­gra­tion in the com­pre­hen­sion of degrad­ed speech

by Jonas Obleser and Son­ja Kotz, in Neu­roIm­age.

The final pdf will hope­ful­ly be avail­able online very soon. Mean­while the fig­ure below cap­tures our main results:

Ref­er­ences

  • Obleser J, Kotz SA. Mul­ti­ple brain sig­na­tures of inte­gra­tion in the com­pre­hen­sion of degrad­ed speech. Neu­roim­age. 2011 Mar 15;55(2):713–23. PMID: 21172443. [Open with Read]
Categories
Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience fMRI Linguistics Papers Publications Speech

New paper out: Pat­terns of vow­el and con­so­nant sensitivity

Dear fol­low­ers of the slow­ly emerg­ing Obleser lab,
I am glad to present to you a new paper that was pub­lished last week:

Seg­re­ga­tion of vow­els and con­so­nants in human audi­to­ry cor­tex: Evi­dence for dis­trib­uted hier­ar­chi­cal orga­ni­za­tion

by Jonas Obleser, Amber Leaver, John Van­Meter, and Josef P. Rauscheck­er, in Fron­tiers in Psy­chol­o­gy. It was sub­mit­ted to the new sec­tion of Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tive Neu­ro­science and wil be one of the first papers to appear in this section.

The paper present evi­dence from a small-vox­el 3T study we scanned in George­town a few years ago that

  • nat­u­ral­ly coar­tic­u­lat­ed syl­la­bles like /de:/ or /gu:/ con­tain enough infor­ma­tion for a machine learn­ing algo­rithm to tell vow­el cat­e­gories (front vs back) from each oth­er, and also stop con­so­nant cat­e­gories (/d/ vs /g/) – across participants!
  • with a sur­pris­ing­ly sparse over­lap across sub­ar­eas of the supe­ri­or tem­po­ral cor­tex, how­ev­er and
  • data from the left ante­ri­or region of inter­est (defined as left and ante­ri­or of a prob­a­bilis­tic pri­ma­ry audi­to­ry cor­tex def­i­n­i­tion sen­su Rademach­er et al., 2001) appears par­tic­u­lar­ly “geared” towards these speech–from-speech classifications.

The paper was edit­ed by Mic­ah Mur­ray and received very con­struc­tive reviews from Elia Formisano and Lee Miller (a fea­ture of Fron­tiers jour­nals is to dis­close the peer review­ers after accep­tance; nice fea­ture, I think.)

The final pdf is avail­able online now, and it seems that the Pubmed list­ings for the Fron­tiers in psy­chol­o­gy jour­nal are about to hap­pen very soon.

Ref­er­ences

  • Obleser J, Leaver AM, Van­meter J, Rauscheck­er JP. Seg­re­ga­tion of vow­els and con­so­nants in human audi­to­ry cor­tex: evi­dence for dis­trib­uted hier­ar­chi­cal orga­ni­za­tion. Front Psy­chol. 2010 Dec 24;1:232. PMID: 21738513. [Open with Read]
Categories
Editorial Notes Events

Autumn trav­els

Before our lit­tle lab gets into full throt­tle in late 2010/early 2011 with a great selec­tion of new stu­dents and post­docs join­ing, I will be tour­ing a bit with my most recent data. 

For late Octo­ber, my for­mer co-super­vi­sor Adi­ti Lahiri has kind­ly invit­ed me to give a talk in Oxford.

In Novem­ber, I will be attend­ing the Neu­ro­bi­ol­o­gy of Lan­guage Con­fer­ence in San Diego and present our α‑band in spec­tral­ly vs. tem­po­ral­ly degrad­ed word com­pre­hen­sion data.

Direct­ly fol­low­ing is the Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science con­fer­ence, in San Diego as well. Come and find us in a Nano-sym­po­sium Jonathan Peelle has kind­ly put together.

It will take place on Wednes­day after­noon (last day), Novem­ber 17, and will fea­ture a great selec­tion of speak­ers from our field.