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Auditory Neuroscience Brain stimulation EEG / MEG Executive Functions fMRI Grants Job Offers Semantics Speech

We are hir­ing: new PhD train­ing oppor­tu­ni­ty start­ing spring 2022

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Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Speech Processing fMRI Linguistics Papers Perception Psychology Semantics Speech Uncategorized

New paper in Sci­ence Advances by Schmitt et al.

Very excit­ed to announce that for­mer Obleser lab PhD stu­dent Lea-Maria Schmitt with her co-authors *) is now out in the Jour­nal Sci­ence Advances with her new work, fus­ing artif­i­cal neur­al net­works and func­tion­al MRI data, on timescales of pre­dic­tion in nat­ur­al lan­guage comprehension:

Pre­dict­ing speech from a cor­ti­cal hier­ar­chy of event-based time scales”

*) Lea-Maria Schmitt, Julia Erb, Sarah Tune, and Jonas Obleser from the Obleser lab / Lübeck side, and our col­lab­o­ra­tors Anna Rysop and Gesa Hartwigsen from Gesa’s Lise Meit­ner group at the Max Planck Insti­tute in Leipzig. This research was made pos­si­ble by the ERC and the DFG.

 

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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.

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Ageing Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience EEG / MEG Hearing Loss Neural Filters Papers Publications

New paper in Nature Com­mu­ni­ca­tions by Tune et al.

We are very excit­ed to share that Oble­ser­lab post­doc Sarah Tune has a new paper in Nature Com­mu­ni­ca­tions. „Neur­al atten­tion­al-fil­ter mech­a­nisms of lis­ten­ing suc­cess in mid­dle-aged and old­er par­tic­i­pants“ is our lat­est and to-date most exten­sive out­put of the lon­gi­tu­di­nal ERC Con­sol­ida­tor project on adap­tive lis­ten­ing in age­ing indi­vid­ual (AUDADAPT — include link to https://auditorycognition.com/erc-audadapt/).

This co-pro­duc­tion with cur­rent (Mohsen Alavash and Jonas Obleser) and for­mer (Lorenz Fiedler) Oble­ser­lab mem­bers, takes an in-depth and inte­gra­tive look at how two of the most exten­sive­ly stud­ied neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal atten­tion­al-fil­ter imple­men­ta­tions, alpha pow­er lat­er­al­iza­tion and selec­tive neur­al speech track­ing, relate to one anoth­er and to lis­ten­ing sucess.

Lever­ag­ing our large, rep­re­sen­ta­tive sam­ple of aging lis­ten­ers (N=155, 39–80 years), we show that both neur­al fil­ter imple­men­tatins are robust­ly mod­u­lat­ed by atten­tion but oper­ate sur­prins­ing­ly inde­pen­dent of one another.

In a series of sophis­ti­cat­ed sin­gle-tri­al lin­ear mod­els that include vari­a­tion in neur­al fil­ter strength with­in and between indi­vid­u­als, we demon­strate how the pref­er­en­tial neur­al track­ing of attend­ed ver­sus ignored speech but not alpha lat­er­al­iza­tion boosts lis­ten­ing success.

To learn more, the paper is avail­able here.

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Auditory Neuroscience Auf deutsch Media Perception Publications Speech

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).

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Ageing Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception fMRI Hearing Loss Papers Perception Psychology Publications

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.

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Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception EEG / MEG Papers Perception Uncategorized

New paper in press in elife: Waschke et al.

Oble­ser­lab senior PhD stu­dent Leo Waschke, along­side co-authors Sarah Tune and Jonas Obleser, has a new paper in eLife.

The pro­cess­ing of sen­so­ry infor­ma­tion from our envi­ron­ment is not con­stant but rather varies with changes in ongo­ing brain activ­i­ty, or brain states. Thus, also the acu­ity of per­cep­tu­al deci­sions depends on the brain state dur­ing which sen­so­ry infor­ma­tion is processed. Recent work in non-human ani­mals sug­gests two key process­es that shape brain states rel­e­vant for sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance. On the one hand, the momen­tary lev­el of neur­al desyn­chro­niza­tion in sen­so­ry cor­ti­cal areas has been shown to impact neur­al rep­re­sen­ta­tions of sen­so­ry input and relat­ed per­for­mance. On the oth­er hand, the cur­rent lev­el of arousal and relat­ed nora­dren­er­gic activ­i­ty has been linked to changes in sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and per­cep­tu­al acuity.

How­ev­er, it is unclear at present, whether local neur­al desyn­chro­niza­tion and arousal pose dis­tinct brain states that entail vary­ing con­se­quences for sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and behav­iour or if they rep­re­sent two inter­re­lat­ed man­i­fes­ta­tions of ongo­ing brain activ­i­ty and joint­ly affect behav­iour. Fur­ther­more, the exact shape of the rela­tion­ship between per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance and each of both brain states mark­ers (e.g. lin­ear vs. qua­drat­ic) is unclear at present.

In order to trans­fer find­ings from ani­mal phys­i­ol­o­gy to human cog­ni­tive neu­ro­science and test the exact shape of unique as well as shared influ­ences of local cor­ti­cal desyn­chro­niza­tion and glob­al arousal on sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance, we record­ed elec­troen­cephalog­ra­phy and pupil­lom­e­try in 25 human par­tic­i­pants while they per­formed a chal­leng­ing audi­to­ry dis­crim­i­na­tion task.

Impor­tant­ly, audi­to­ry stim­uli were selec­tive­ly pre­sent­ed dur­ing peri­ods of espe­cial­ly high or low audi­to­ry cor­ti­cal desyn­chro­niza­tion as approx­i­mat­ed by an infor­ma­tion the­o­ret­ic mea­sure of time-series com­plex­i­ty (weight­ed per­mu­ta­tion entropy). By means of a closed-loop real time set­up we were not only able to present stim­uli dur­ing dif­fer­ent desyn­chro­niza­tion states but also made sure to sam­ple the whole dis­tri­b­u­tion of such states, a pre­req­ui­site for the accu­rate assess­ment of brain-behav­iour rela­tion­ships. The record­ed pupil­lom­e­try data addi­tion­al­ly enabled us to draw infer­ences regard­ing the cur­rent lev­el of arousal due to the estab­lished link between nora­dren­er­gic activ­i­ty and pupil size.

 

Sin­gle tri­al analy­ses of EEG activ­i­ty, pupil­lom­e­try and behav­iour revealed clear­ly dis­so­cia­ble influ­ences of both brain state mark­ers on ongo­ing brain activ­i­ty, ear­ly sound-relat­ed activ­i­ty and behav­iour. High desyn­chro­niza­tion states were char­ac­ter­ized by a pro­nounced reduc­tion in oscil­la­to­ry pow­er across a wide fre­quen­cy range while high arousal states coin­cid­ed with a decrease in oscil­la­to­ry pow­er that was lim­it­ed to high fre­quen­cies. Sim­i­lar­ly, ear­ly sound-evoked activ­i­ty was dif­fer­en­tial­ly impact­ed by audi­to­ry cor­ti­cal desyn­chro­niza­tion and pupil-linked arousal. Phase-locked respons­es and evoked gam­ma pow­er increased with local desyn­chro­niza­tion with a ten­den­cy to sat­u­rate at inter­me­di­ate lev­els. Post-stim­u­lus low fre­quen­cy pow­er on the oth­er hand, increased with pupil-linked arousal.

Most impor­tant­ly, local desyn­chro­niza­tion and pupil-linked arousal dis­played dif­fer­ent rela­tion­ships with per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance. While par­tic­i­pants per­formed fastest and least biased fol­low­ing inter­me­di­ate lev­els of audi­to­ry cor­ti­cal desyn­chro­niza­tion, inter­me­di­ate lev­els of pupil-linked arousal were asso­ci­at­ed with high­est sen­si­tiv­i­ty. Thus, although both process­es pose behav­ioural­ly rel­e­vant brain states that affect per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance fol­low­ing an invert­ed u, they impact dis­tinct sub­do­mains of behav­iour. Tak­en togeth­er, our results speak to a mod­el in which inde­pen­dent states of local desyn­chro­niza­tion and glob­al arousal joint­ly shape states for opti­mal sen­so­ry pro­cess­ing and per­cep­tu­al per­for­mance. The pub­lished man­u­script includ­ing all sup­ple­men­tal infor­ma­tion can be found here.

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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.