Euro­pean Research Coun­cil — Audadapt

Objec­tive

Humans in prin­ci­ple adapt well to sen­so­ry degra­da­tions. In order to do so, our cog­ni­tive strate­gies need to adjust accord­ing­ly (a process we term “adap­tive control”).The audi­to­ry sen­so­ry modal­i­ty pos­es an excel­lent, although under-utilised, research mod­el to under­stand these adjust­ments, 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.

The project will pur­sue three spe­cif­ic aims: (1) We will first spec­i­fy the neur­al dynam­ics of “adap­tive con­trol” in the under-stud­ied tar­get group of mid­dle-aged lis­ten­ers com­pared to young lis­ten­ers. We will employ advanced mul­ti-modal neu­roimag­ing (EEG and fMRI) mark­ers and a flex­i­ble exper­i­men­tal design of lis­ten­ing chal­lenges. (2) Based on the para­me­ters estab­lished in (1), we will explain interindi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in adap­tive con­trol in a large-scale sam­ple of mid­dle-aged lis­ten­ers, and aim to re-test each indi­vid­ual again after approx­i­mate­ly two years. These data will lead to (3) where we will employ sta­tis­ti­cal mod­els that incor­po­rate a broad­er con­text of audi­o­log­i­cal, cog­ni­tive skill, and per­son­al­i­ty mark­ers and recon­structs lon­gi­tu­di­nal “tra­jec­to­ries of change” in adap­tive con­trol over the mid­dle-age life span.

Pur­su­ing these aims will help estab­lish a new the­o­ret­i­cal frame­work for the adap­tive age­ing brain. The project will fur­ther break new ground for future clas­si­fi­ca­tion and treat­ment of hear­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, and for devel­op­ing indi­vid­u­alised hear­ing solu­tions. Prof­it­ing from an excel­lent research envi­ron­ment and the prin­ci­ple investigator’s pre-estab­lished lab­o­ra­to­ry, this research has the poten­tial to chal­lenge and to trans­form cur­rent under­stand­ing and con­cepts of the age­ing human indi­vid­ual.

ERC-Con­sol­ida­tor Grant award­ed to Jonas Obleser, 2016–2020

Core Mem­bers of the ERC-Audadapt Team

Jonas Obleser

Mohsen Alavash

Sarah Tune

Julia Erb

Leon­hard Waschke

Franziska Schara­ta

This project has received fund­ing from the Euro­pean Research Coun­cil (ERC) under the Euro­pean Union’s Hori­zon 2020 research and inno­va­tion pro­gramme (Grant No 646696)