Editorial Notes Publications Uncategorized

Jonas Obleser appoint­ed as Action Edi­tor in “Brain and Language”

Jonas has just recent­ly been appoint­ed as new Action Edi­tor for the jour­nal “Brain and Lan­guage” (Edi­tor in Chief: Steven Small).

Brain and Lan­guage is a clas­sic, key jour­nal in the field push­ing the agen­da of under­stand­ing the neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal foun­da­tions of lan­guage. Thanks in advance for your best submissions!

Auditory Working Memory Degraded Acoustics EEG / MEG Executive Functions Neural Oscillations Papers Publications

[UPDATE] New review paper by Wilsch & Obleser in press: What works in audi­to­ry work­ing memory?

AC alum­na Anna Wilsch (now Uni­ver­si­ty of Old­en­burg) has a new review paper in press in a spe­cial issue on audi­to­ry work­ing mem­o­ry, curat­ed by Jochen Kaiser (Frank­furt) and Michael Brosch (Magde­burg) in “Brain Research”. We pro­vide a review on neur­al oscil­la­to­ry sig­na­tures of (var­i­ous forms of) audi­to­ry short-term memory.

Wilsch, A., Obleser, J. (in press). What works in audi­to­ry work­ing mem­o­ry? A neur­al oscil­la­tions per­spec­tive. Brain Research

Watch out for that spe­cial issue, as it will have an excel­lent ros­ter of col­leagues con­tribut­ing, and we are proud to be part of it.

The abstract is giv­en below.

Work­ing mem­o­ry is a lim­it­ed resource: Brains can only main­tain small amounts of sen­so­ry input (mem­o­ry load) over a brief peri­od of time (mem­o­ry decay). The dynam­ics of slow neur­al oscil­la­tions as record­ed using mag­ne­to- and elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (M/EEG) pro­vide a win­dow into the neur­al mechan­ics of these lim­i­ta­tions. Espe­cial­ly oscil­la­tions in the alpha range (8–13 Hz) are a sen­si­tive mark­er for mem­o­ry load. More­over, accord­ing to cur­rent mod­els, the resul­tant work­ing mem­o­ry load is deter­mined by the rel­a­tive noise in the neur­al rep­re­sen­ta­tion of main­tained infor­ma­tion. The audi­to­ry domain allows mem­o­ry researchers to apply and test the con­cept of noise quite lit­er­al­ly: Employ­ing degrad­ed stim­u­lus acoustics increas­es mem­o­ry load and, at the same time, al- lows assess­ing the cog­ni­tive resources required to process speech in noise in an eco­log­i­cal­ly valid and clin­i­cal­ly rel­e­vant way. The present review first sum­ma­rizes recent find­ings on neur­al oscil­la­tions, espe­cial­ly alpha pow­er, and how they reflect mem­o­ry load and mem­o­ry decay in audi­to­ry work­ing mem­o­ry. The focus is specif­i­cal­ly on mem­o­ry load result­ing from acoustic degra­da­tion. These find­ings are then con­trast­ed with con­tex­tu­al fac­tors that ben­e­fit neur­al as well as behav­ioral mark­ers of mem­o­ry per­for­mance, by reduc­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tion­al noise. We end on dis­cussing the func­tion­al role of alpha pow­er in audi­to­ry work­ing mem­o­ry and sug­gest exten­sions of the cur­rent method­olog­i­cal toolkit. 

Check out the arti­cle online.

Editorial Notes Job Offers

WE ARE HIRING: Post­docs wanted

The research group “Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion” (head­ed by Prof. Dr. Jonas Obleser; in the Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck, is seek­ing to hire two

Post­doc­tor­al Researchers

start­ing by Jan­u­ary 2016, ini­tially for 3 years, with the option of exten­sion. These posi­tions will fall into the larg­er frame­work of an ERC Con­sol­ida­tor grant “The lis­ten­ing chal­lenge: How age­ing brains adapt” (AUDADAPT) recent­ly award­ed to Jonas Obleser, and will allow the joint devel­op­ment of cog­ni­­tive-neu­ro­­science and psy­cho­log­i­cal research projects tar­get­ing adap­tive con­trol in the audi­tory modal­ity of mid­dle-aged adults.

For more infor­ma­tion, see the attached pdf.

Auss­chrei­bung — Wiss. Mitar­bei­t­erIn Psy­cholo­gie (en)

Editorial Notes Events Posters Publications

See you at SfN

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science 2015 is com­ing up. Please come and check out our stuff! Also, Jonas will be chair­ing the sym­po­sium on cor­ti­cal encod­ing of com­plex sound (with talks by for­mer PhD stu­dent Julia Erb and for­mer Post­doc Björn Her­rmann) on tues­day morning.

Posters by the Obleser lab:

Tues­day morn­ing Session:
FIEDLER et al., In-ear-EEG …, Board M46
WILSCH et al., Cor­ti­ca pat­terns of alpha pow­er …, Board Y1
Wednes­day after­noon Session:
LIM et al., Evoked respons­es and alpha oscil­la­tions …, Board BB37

See you there.


Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception EEG / MEG Neural Oscillations Papers Publications Speech

New paper: Her­rmann, Hen­ry, Hae­gens & Obleser in Neuroimage

And again, AC-Alum­ni Björn Her­rmann got a new paper in press / online at Neu­roIm­age on

Tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions and neur­al ampli­tude fluc­tu­a­tions in audi­to­ry cor­tex inter­ac­tive­ly influ­ence perception

Align­ment of neur­al oscil­la­tions with tem­po­ral­ly reg­u­lar input allows lis­ten­ers to gen­er­ate tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions. How­ev­er, it remains unclear how behav­ior is gov­erned in the con­text of tem­po­ral vari­abil­i­ty: What role do tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions play, and how do they inter­act with the strength of neur­al oscil­la­to­ry activ­i­ty? Here, human par­tic­i­pants detect­ed near-thresh­old tar­gets in tem­po­ral­ly vari­able acoustic sequences. Tem­po­ral expec­ta­tion strength was esti­mat­ed using an oscil­la­tor mod­el and pre-tar­get neur­al ampli­tudes in audi­to­ry cor­tex were extract­ed from mag­ne­toen­cephalog­ra­phy sig­nals. Tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions mod­u­lat­ed tar­get-detec­tion per­for­mance, how­ev­er, only when neur­al delta-band ampli­tudes were large. Thus, slow neur­al oscil­la­tions act to gate influ­ences of tem­po­ral expec­ta­tion on per­cep­tion. Fur­ther­more, slow ampli­tude fluc­tu­a­tions gov­erned lin­ear and qua­drat­ic influ­ences of audi­to­ry alpha-band activ­i­ty on per­for­mance. By fus­ing a mod­el of tem­po­ral expec­ta­tion with neur­al oscil­la­to­ry dynam­ics, the cur­rent find­ings show that human per­cep­tion in tem­po­ral­ly vari­able con­texts relies on com­plex inter­ac­tions between mul­ti­ple neur­al fre­quen­cy bands.



  • Her­rmann B1, Hen­ry MJ2, Hae­gens S3, Obleser J4. Tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions and neur­al ampli­tude fluc­tu­a­tions in audi­to­ry cor­tex inter­ac­tive­ly influ­ence per­cep­tion. Neu­roim­age. 2015 Sep 18;124(Pt A):487–497. PMID: 26386347. [Open with Read]
Papers Publications

Sen­si­tiv­i­ty of rat infe­ri­or col­licu­lus neu­rons to fre­quen­cy dis­tri­b­u­tions by Her­rmann et al.

New paper in press by AC Alum­ni Björn Her­rman in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ed Bartlett and col­leagues from Pur­due Uni­ver­si­ty on stim­u­lus-sta­tis­ti­cal and stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion in the rat infe­ri­or col­licu­lus that will appear soon in the Jour­nal of Neurophysiology.

Sen­si­tiv­i­ty of rat infe­ri­or col­licu­lus neu­rons to fre­quen­cy distributions

Stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion refers to a neur­al response reduc­tion to a repeat­ed stim­u­lus that does not gen­er­al­ize to oth­er stim­uli. How­ev­er, stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion appears be influ­enced by addi­tion­al fac­tors. For exam­ple, the sta­tis­ti­cal dis­tri­b­u­tion of tone fre­quen­cies has recent­ly been shown to dynam­i­cal­ly alter stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion in human audi­to­ry cor­tex. The cur­rent study inves­ti­gat­ed whether sta­tis­ti­cal stim­u­lus dis­tri­b­u­tions also affect stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion at an ear­li­er stage of the audi­to­ry hier­ar­chy. Neur­al spik­ing activ­i­ty and local field poten­tials were record­ed from infe­ri­or col­licu­lus neu­rons of rats while tones were pre­sent­ed in odd­ball sequences that formed two dif­fer­ent sta­tis­ti­cal con­texts. Each sequence con­sist­ed of a repeat­ed­ly pre­sent­ed tone (stan­dard) and three rare deviants of dif­fer­ent mag­ni­tudes (small, mod­er­ate, large spec­tral change). The crit­i­cal manip­u­la­tion was the rel­a­tive prob­a­bil­i­ty with which large spec­tral changes occurred. In one con­text, the prob­a­bil­i­ty was high (rel­a­tive to all deviants) while it was low in the oth­er con­text. We observed larg­er respons­es for deviants com­pared to stan­dards, con­firm­ing pre­vi­ous reports of increased response adap­ta­tion for fre­quent­ly pre­sent­ed tones. Impor­tant­ly, the sta­tis­ti­cal con­text in which tones were pre­sent­ed strong­ly mod­u­lat­ed stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion. Phys­i­cal­ly and prob­a­bilis­ti­cal­ly iden­ti­cal stim­uli (mod­er­ate deviants) in the two sta­tis­ti­cal con­texts elicit­ed dif­fer­ent respons­es mag­ni­tudes con­sis­tent with neur­al gain changes and thus neur­al sen­si­tiv­i­ty adjust­ments induced by the spec­tral range of a stim­u­lus dis­tri­b­u­tion. The data show that already at the lev­el of the infe­ri­or col­licu­lus stim­u­lus-spe­cif­ic adap­ta­tion is dynam­i­cal­ly altered by the sta­tis­ti­cal con­text in which stim­uli occur.


  • Her­rmann B1, Parthasarathy A2, Han EX, Obleser J3, Bartlett EL2. Sen­si­tiv­i­ty of rat infe­ri­or col­licu­lus neu­rons to fre­quen­cy dis­tri­b­u­tions. J Neu­ro­phys­i­ol. 2015 Sep 9:jn. PMID: 26354316. [Open with Read]
Adaptive Control Ageing EEG / MEG Executive Functions fMRI Job Offers

We’ll be hir­ing soon: Post­docs wanted

The research group “Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion” (head­ed by Prof. Dr. Jonas Obleser; in the recent­ly estab­lished Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck, is seek­ing to hire several

Post­doc­tor­al Researchers

start­ing by Jan­u­ary 2016, ini­tial­ly for 3 years, with the option of a 2‑year exten­sion. These posi­tions will fall into the larg­er frame­work of an ERC Con­sol­ida­tor grant “The lis­ten­ing chal­lenge: How age­ing brains adapt” recent­ly award­ed to Jonas Obleser, and will allow the joint devel­op­ment of cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science and psy­cho­log­i­cal research projects tar­get­ing adap­tive con­trol in the audi­to­ry modal­i­ty of mid­dle-aged adults.

[About the ERC project: The audi­to­ry sen­so­ry modal­i­ty pos­es an excel­lent, although under-utilised, research mod­el to under­stand the cog­ni­tive adjust­ments to sen­so­ry change (here termed “adap­tive con­trol”), their neur­al basis, and their large vari­a­tion amongst indi­vid­u­als. Hear­ing abil­i­ties begin to decline already in the fourth life decade, and our guid­ing hypoth­e­sis is that indi­vid­u­als dif­fer in the extent to which they are neu­ral­ly, cog­ni­tive­ly, and psy­cho­log­i­cal­ly equipped to adapt to this sen­so­ry decline.]

We are look­ing for cre­ative minds with a PhD degree and a promis­ing track record in cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science, psy­chol­o­gy, physics, or engi­neer­ing. A strong back­ground and inter­est in research meth­ods is desir­able. Pri­or expe­ri­ence with either human neu­ro­science meth­ods (espe­cial­ly advanced EEG and/or fMRI analy­ses) or mod­el­ing of rich data sets (e.g., latent growth mod­el­ing, struc­tur­al equa­tion mod­el­ing) is expected.

The Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck is a mod­ern uni­ver­si­ty spe­cial­iz­ing in Med­i­cine, Com­put­er Sci­ence, Mol­e­c­u­lar Biol­o­gy, Bio­math­e­mat­ics and Med­ical Engi­neer­ing. Inter­na­tion­al­ly renowned research and high stan­dards of aca­d­e­m­ic tutor­ing char­ac­ter­ize the pro­file of the uni­ver­si­ty. A new ded­i­cat­ed research build­ing (Cen­tre for Brain, Behav­iour, and Metab­o­lism; CBBM) hous­ing also the Obleser lab will open in late 2015.

Pay­ment will fol­low salary group E13 TV‑L (full time), if con­di­tions based on Ger­man Pub­lic ser­vice reg­u­la­tions are satisfied.


These posi­tions will be announced offi­cial­ly lat­er in autumn 2015, but inter­est­ed can­di­dates should be in touch now with Jonas Obleser,

Ageing Auditory Speech Processing Degraded Acoustics Hearing Loss Media Publications Speech

Quick inter­view for

Based on Malte’s recent J Neu­rosci study, Jonas did a brief inter­view for Ger­man radio today and talked lis­ten­ing effort, dig­i­tal phone lines, noise reduc­tion, and next-gen­er­a­tion hear­ing aids with host Tere­sa Nehm. (In Ger­man only.)