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Ageing Attention Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception Computational Modelling fMRI Job Offers Neural Oscillations Speech perception

We are hir­ing: two new PhD train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ties start­ing ear­ly next year!

Our two senior researchers, Sarah Tune and Malte Wöst­mann, are hap­py to each announce the open­ing of a three-year PhD posi­tion in the Obleser lab. The posi­tions are part of two recent­ly fund­ed DFG grants, and will fea­ture real­ly excit­ing com­bi­na­tions of behav­iour mod­el­ling and neur­al dynamics!

Sarah’s project will look into how per­cep­tu­al infer­ence changes with age, using speech per­cep­tion as a mod­el sys­tem. It will bring togeth­er behav­iour­al speech per­cep­tion exper­i­ments and func­tion­al neu­roimag­ing, and apply com­pu­ta­tion­al mod­el­ling to link between the two.

For full details, see the offi­cial job ad.

Malte’s project will focus on audi­to­ry atten­tion and its neur­al bases. It will com­bine behav­iour­al and elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG) data in younger and old­er adults to inves­ti­gate the neu­ro-cog­ni­tive mech­a­nisms under­ly­ing cap­ture of atten­tion and sup­pres­sion of distraction.

For full details, see the offi­cial job ad.

The appli­ca­tion dead­line (as sin­gle PDF to the email address named in the ad!) is Nov 19, 2023!

Please don’t hes­i­tate to con­tact Sarah or Malte if you have any infor­mal ques­tions about PhD posi­tions and projects. Sarah will also be at APAN and SfN soon, if you feel like chat­ting with her about the position.

We are look­ing for­ward to many inter­est­ing applications!

 

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Ageing Attention Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception Auditory Speech Processing EEG / MEG Executive Functions fMRI Grants Hearing Loss Linguistics Neural dynamics Perception Semantics Uncategorized

A grant dou­ble to celebrate

We are hon­oured and delight­ed that the Deutsche Forschungs­ge­mein­schaft has deemed two of our recent appli­ca­tions wor­thy of fund­ing: The two senior researchers in the  lab, Sarah Tune and Malte Wöst­mann, have both been award­ed three-year grant fund­ing for their new projects. Congratulations!

In her 3‑year, 360‑K€ project “How per­cep­tu­al infer­ence changes with age: Behav­iour­al and brain dynam­ics of speech per­cep­tion”, Sarah Tune will explore the role of per­cep­tu­al pri­ors in speech per­cep­tion in the age­ing lis­ten­er. She will main­ly use neur­al and per­cep­tu­al mod­el­ling and func­tion­al neuroimaging.

In his 3‑year, 270‑K€ project “Inves­ti­ga­tion of cap­ture and sup­pres­sion in audi­to­ry atten­tion”, Malte Wöst­mann will con­tin­ue and refine his suc­cess­ful research endeav­our into dis­so­ci­at­ing the role of sup­pres­sive mech­a­nisms in the lis­ten­ing mind and brain, main­ly using EEG and behav­iour­al modelling.

Both of them will soon adver­tise posts for PhD can­di­dates to join us, accord­ing­ly, and to work on these excit­ing projects with Sarah and Malte and the rest of the Oble­ser­lab team

 

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Attention Memory Papers

New Paper in Sci­en­tif­ic Reports by Lui&Wöstmann

A tick­ing clock in the liv­ing room; an ambi­ent music in the café; the foot­steps of a passers­by on the street – We are sur­round­ed by a pletho­ra of dis­tract­ing events with reg­u­lar tem­po­ral struc­tures in dai­ly life. Can we ignore these dis­trac­tors better?

Tro­by Ka-Yan Lui and Malte Wöst­mann recent­ly pub­lished a study on the effect of tem­po­ral­ly reg­u­lar ver­sus irreg­u­lar dis­trac­tors on the abil­i­ty to main­tain items in mem­o­ry. Sur­pris­ing­ly, they found that the tem­po­ral reg­u­lar­i­ty of dis­trac­tors did not have an effect on participant’s mem­o­ry per­for­mance. Instead, they found an effect of the tem­po­ral reg­u­lar­i­ty of dis­trac­tors on response behav­iour – par­tic­i­pants were faster and more biased in respond­ing whether the cur­rent num­ber matched with the num­ber in memory.

These results have the­o­ret­i­cal impli­ca­tions: exter­nal dis­trac­tion may have a more per­va­sive influ­ence on dif­fer­ent aspects of cog­ni­tive process­es than mem­o­ry main­te­nance. The arti­cle will soon be avail­able in Sci­en­tif­ic Reports.

Categories
Attention fMRI Memory Papers

New paper in Neu­roIm­age, Lim et al.

Atten­tion lets us focus our lim­it­ed cog­ni­tive resources on behav­ioral­ly impor­tant infor­ma­tion. Less obvi­ous is that atten­tion also helps us to hold infor­ma­tion in mem­o­ry with high pre­ci­sion. But how does the brain imple­ment this direct­ed atten­tion to mem­o­ry, and what behav­iour­al ben­e­fits does it yield for us humans?

For­mer post­doc Sung-Joo Lim (now at Bing­ham­ton Uni­ver­si­ty), Jonas Obleser, and a team of col­lab­o­ra­tors from Old­en­burg (Chris­tiane Thiel) and Leipzig (Bern­hard Sehm, Lorenz Deser­no, and Jöran Lep­sien) have now a new arti­cle on this old prob­lem, to appear in NeuroImage.

Using the changes in brain blood oxy­gena­tion as mea­sured with fMRI, this study demon­strates that atten­tion enables mem­o­ry main­te­nance of speech sound infor­ma­tion across mul­ti­ple brain regions. A speech-sen­si­tive brain region in the tem­po­ral lobe (the left supe­ri­or tem­po­ral sul­cus) con­tributes the most in pre­dict­ing the indi­vid­ual gain in recall pre­ci­sion of audi­to­ry objects from mem­o­ry. This study high­lights that func­tion­al­ly dis­crete brain regions work togeth­er in main­tain­ing and atten­tion­al­ly enhanc­ing work­ing mem­o­ry infor­ma­tion, but they exert dif­ferental influ­ences depend­ing on their func­tion­al specializations.

The full arti­cle is now avail­able here.

Categories
Adaptive Control Attention EEG / MEG Neural dynamics Papers Uncategorized

New paper in eLife, Waschke et al.

For­mer Oble­ser­lab PhD stu­dent Leo Waschke is now out in eLife with an inge­nious demon­stra­tion how both endoge­nous and exoge­nous­ly-dri­ven changes in the steep­ness of the brain-elec­tric 1/f pow­er spec­trum (in part linked direct­ly to local excitation:inhibiton, E:I, ratio) in neur­al pop­u­la­tions can affect behav­iour in com­plex, mul­ti-sen­so­ry envi­ron­ments: “Modal­i­ty-spe­cif­ic track­ing of atten­tion and sen­so­ry sta­tis­tics in the human elec­tro­phys­i­o­log­i­cal spec­tral expo­nent”

The results draw heav­i­ly on the recent spec­tral-slope expo­nent work by our col­lab­o­ra­tors at Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Diego in the lab of Bradley Voytek, and have come togeth­er in a three-lab col­labo of Lübeck, San Diego, and Leo’s cur­rent sci­en­tif­ic home, the Dou­glas Gar­rett lab at the MPIB.

 
Con­grat­u­la­tions, Leo!

Categories
Attention Auditory Neuroscience EEG / MEG Papers Publications Speech Tracking Unilateral Vocoding

New Paper in Trends in Hear­ing by Kraus et al.

Frauke Kraus, Sarah Tune, Anna Ruhe, Jonas Obleser & Malte Wöst­mann demon­strate that uni­lat­er­al acoustic degra­da­tion delays atten­tion­al sep­a­ra­tion of com­pet­ing speech.

Uni­lat­er­al cochlear implant (CI) users have to inte­grate acousti­cal­ly intact speech on one ear and acousti­cal­ly degrad­ed speech on the oth­er ear. How inter­act uni­lat­er­al acoustic degra­da­tion and spa­tial atten­tion in a mul­titalk­er situation?
N = 22 par­tic­i­pants took part in a com­pet­ing lis­ten­ing exper­i­ment while lis­ten­ing to an intact audio­book under dis­trac­tion of an acousti­cal­ly degrad­ed audio­book and vice ver­sa. Speech track­ing revealed not per se reduced atten­tion­al sep­a­ra­tion of acousti­cal­ly degrad­ed speech but instead a delay in time com­pared to intact speech. These find­ings might explain lis­ten­ing chal­lenges expe­ri­enced by uni­lat­er­al CI users.

To learn more, the paper is avail­able here.

Categories
Attention Auditory Neuroscience Neural Oscillations Papers Psychology Uncategorized

New paper in press in the Jour­nal of Neuroscience

Wöst­mann, Alavash and Obleser demon­strate that alpha oscil­la­tions in the human brain imple­ment dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion inde­pen­dent of tar­get selection.

In the­o­ry, the abil­i­ty to selec­tive­ly focus on rel­e­vant objects in our envi­ron­ment bases on selec­tion of tar­gets and sup­pres­sion of dis­trac­tion. As it is unclear whether tar­get selec­tion and dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion are inde­pen­dent, we designed an Elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy (EEG) study to direct­ly con­trast these two processes.

Par­tic­i­pants per­formed a pitch dis­crim­i­na­tion task on a tone sequence pre­sent­ed at one loud­speak­er loca­tion while a dis­tract­ing tone sequence was pre­sent­ed at anoth­er loca­tion. When the dis­trac­tor was fixed in the front, atten­tion to upcom­ing tar­gets on the left ver­sus right side induced hemi­spher­ic lat­er­al­i­sa­tion of alpha pow­er with rel­a­tive­ly high­er pow­er ipsi- ver­sus con­tralat­er­al to the side of attention.

Crit­i­cal­ly, when the tar­get was fixed in front, sup­pres­sion of upcom­ing dis­trac­tors reversed the pat­tern of alpha lat­er­al­i­sa­tion, that is, alpha pow­er increased con­tralat­er­al to the dis­trac­tor and decreased ipsi­lat­er­al­ly. Since the two lat­er­al­ized alpha respons­es were uncor­re­lat­ed across par­tic­i­pants, they can be con­sid­ered large­ly inde­pen­dent cog­ni­tive mechanisms.

This was fur­ther sup­port­ed by the fact that alpha lat­er­al­i­sa­tion in response to dis­trac­tor sup­pres­sion orig­i­nat­ed in more ante­ri­or, frontal cor­ti­cal regions com­pared with tar­get selec­tion (see figure).

The paper is also avail­able as preprint here.

 

Categories
Adaptive Control Attention fMRI Grants Hearing Loss Uncategorized

New DFG project led by Mohsen Alavash on the Net­work Neu­ro­science of Spa­tial Attention

Con­grat­u­la­tions to our cur­rent­ly ERC-fund­ed lab mem­ber and post­doc Mohsen Alavash who has just secured 3‑year fund­ing (~380,000 €) by the Deutsche Forschungs­ge­mein­schaft (DFG) for an ambi­tious project: Mohsen wants to get clos­er to a net­work/­graph-the­o­ret­i­cal descrip­tion of how spa­tial atten­tion in the lis­ten­ing brain is organ­ised. In a lat­er stage of the project, Mohsen also plans on study­ing how the net­work organ­i­sa­tion of spa­tial atten­tion may be altered in hear­ing-impaired listeners.

We are glad that Mohsen plans on run­ning this project with­in the Obleser lab, here at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck.

Also, make sure to check out Mohsen’s lat­est pub­li­ca­tion on the topic.