Towards a brain-controlled hearing aid: PhD student Lorenz Fiedler shows how attended and ignored auditory streams are differently represented in the neural responses and how the focus of auditory attention can be extracted from EEG signals recorded at electrodes placed inside the ear-canal and around the ear.
Auditory Cognition’s own Malte Wöstmann is in press in Cerebral Cortex with his latest offering on how attentional control manifests in alpha power changes: Ignoring speech can be beneficial (if comprehending speech potentially detracts from another task), and we here show how this change in listening goals turns around the pattern of alpha-power changes with changing speech degradation. (We will update as the paper becomes available online.)
Wöstmann, M., Lim, S.J., & Obleser, J. (2017). The human neural alpha response to speech is a proxy of attentional control. Cerebral Cortex. In press.
Story time: Some time in early 2011, I sat down with an American, fresh PhD graduate who had just joined my new lab, in a Leipzig bar (Café Cantona; if you are interested you can find this great 24⁄7 bar with exquisite food also in the acknowledgments of, e.g., Obleser & Eisner, Trends Cogn Sci, 2009).
To the day, I could still point you to the table she and I sat down at, and the wall I faced (which is notable because we actually spent an unhealthy amount of time and money there over the years). Soon thereafter, we grabbed a beer mat and started scribbling waves and marked where we would place so-called targets (psychologist lingo) and talked a lot of gibberish about frequency modulation. I remember vididly that I had just read an insanely long review paper on neural oscillations by Wolfgang Klimesch (that, more in passing, cited old-school tales of Schmitt filters by the late great Francesco Varela or pioneers sounding like record producers, Dustman & Beck, 1965), while the young American opposite me turned out to be an—if adventurous—die-hard expert on auditory psychophysics.
Who would have thought that this very night would carry me towards tenure in three years’ time, and her around the globe as an esteemed young colleague.
When I nowadays check Google scholar, I am amazed to see that already more than 100 other papers have cited what directly grew out of that beer mat one and a half years later—not counting the many more papers this said postdoc, Molly Henry, has produced since.
Congratulation to PhD student Malte Wöstmann, who – with Erich Schröger and Jonas Obleser – has a new article in press at the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience
forthcoming. We will update you accordingly as the paper comes online. We will share however one of Malte’s figures here as a teaser: The paper utilises a very classic component of the evoked potential, the contingent negative variation (the CNV; or a close relative thereof, see the actual paper for discussion) to study how older and younger listeners allocate their attentional resources depending on implicit cues on to-be-expected listening difficulties.
Congratulations to Auditory Cognition’s very own Molly Henry who, with Björn Herrmann and Jonas Obleser, is about to publish yet another PNAS paper:
Henry MJ, Herrmann B, & Obleser J. PNAS, in press.
We are very excited about this one, as it harks back to Molly’s 2012 PNAS paper yet ups the ante somewhat: How do neural oscillations behave towards a more realistically complex mixture of acoustic regularities, and how does listening behaviour change as a function of various neural entrained phases?
Stay tuned until after PNAS embargo has been lifted![UPDATE]
PNAS paper is online. Check it out here.
In a collaboration with the University Clinic of Leipzig and Prof Dr Gesa Hartwigsen (now University of Kiel), a new paper is to appear in “Cortex”, in the forthcoming special issue on Prediction in Speech and Language, edited by Alessandro Tavano and AC alumnus Mathias Scharinger.
Hartwigsen G, Golombek T, & Obleser J.
Check it out soon!
Auditory filter width affects response magnitude but not frequency specificity in auditory cortex
This is fantastic news on a friday morning: Obleser lab Postdoc Björn Herrmann teamed up with his fellow Postdocs Mathias Scharinger and Molly Henry to study how spectral analysis in the auditory periphery (termed frequency selectivity) relates to processing in auditory cortex (termed frequency specificity; see also Björns paper in J Neurophysiol 2013).
Giving this an ageing and hearing loss perspective and building on the concept of auditory filters in the cochlea (Moore et al.), Björn found that the overall N1 amplitude of listeners, but not their frequency-specific neural adaptation patterns, is correlated with the pass-band of the auditory filter.
This suggests that widened auditory filters are compensated for by a response gain in frequency-specific areas of auditory cortex; the paper is in press and forthcoming in Hearing Research.
Paper is available online.
Late 2010 was particularly good to us:
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: