Our Research

Jonas Obleser and the Research Group Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck, Ger­many, study cog­ni­tive process­es in the human brain.

Our focus lies in neur­al dynam­ics of com­mu­ni­ca­tion,  using main­ly audi­tion as a “mod­el sys­tem”:

Cur­rent research inter­ests:

Audi­to­ry Atten­tion
— How does the neur­al sys­tem imple­ment a listener’s behav­iour­al goal of attend­ing to sound? What are the psy­cho­log­i­cal and neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal ‘algo­rithms’ that we have come to sum under the term of atten­tion?
Main tools are neur­al oscil­la­tions, neur­al track­ing of speech, psy­chophysics, as well as graph-the­o­ret­i­cal descrip­tions of brain activ­i­ty in EEG and fMRI

PIs: Jonas Obleser, Malte Wöst­mann, Mohsen Alavash

Neur­al Dynam­ics and Neur­al Com­pu­ta­tions serv­ing Cog­ni­tion
— Brain activ­i­ty can be under­stood as a set of home­o­sta­t­ic and cyber­net­ic process­es on many tem­po­ral and spa­tial scales. We ask how excitation/Inhibition (E:I) bal­ance on a local, fast-time scale or net­work recon­fig­u­ra­tions on a more glob­al, medi­um- and slow-time scale shape the way we sense and per­ceive the world, and behave in it.
Main tools include quan­tifi­ca­tions of neur­al oscil­la­tions and scale-free activ­i­ty, hemo­dy­nam­ic fluc­tu­a­tions, pupil­lom­e­try; with a focus on math­e­mat­i­cal descrip­tors such as ordi­nal time-series or graph the­o­ry

PIs: Jonas Obleser, Mohsen Alavash

Acoustic Fea­tures and their Neur­al Trans­for­ma­tions
— We study the spec­tro-tem­po­ral rep­re­sen­ta­tion of sound in the ascend­ing audi­to­ry path­way with respect to e.g., how voic­es are rep­re­sent­ed; how class­es of sound (e.g., speech vs. ani­mal vocal­i­sa­tions) as well as more lin­guis­tics lev­els in nat­ur­al speech become neu­ral­ly dif­fer­en­ti­at­ed; how these neur­al fea­tures shape per­cep­tu­al deci­sions; and how aber­rant per­cep­tion express­es neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal­ly in the audi­to­ry sys­tem.
Main tools include psy­chophysics, lin­ear and non-lin­ear neur­al encod­ing and decod­ing mod­els in func­tion­al MRI, brain stem and audi­to­ry cor­ti­cal elec­tro­phys­i­ol­o­gy

PIs: Jonas Obleser with Julia Erb, and Jens Kre­it­e­wolf, 

Trans­la­tion­al Neu­ro­science in Hear­ing Loss and Age­ing

— All three top­ics list­ed above feed into ques­tions of trans­la­tion­al neu­ro­science: Is healthy age­ing in and by itself chang­ing the organ­i­sa­tion of the lis­ten­ing brain? Is hear­ing loss a cause or an effect of senes­cent change in the lis­ten­ing brain? What are the neu­ro­bi­o­log­i­cal, per­cep­tu­al, and behav­iour­al con­se­quences of aid­ed hear­ing, includ­ing cochlear implants?

PIs: Jonas Obleser , Malte Wöst­mann,
with Julia Erb, Jens Kre­it­e­wolf,  Sebas­t­ian Puschmann, and Sarah Tune


In 2014, Jonas was award­ed a Euro­pean Research Coun­cil (ERC) Con­sol­ida­tor grant for study­ing the adap­tive chal­lenges to the mid­dle-aged human adult lis­ten­ing brain. From 2019 on, Jonas serves as a Review­ing Edi­tor for The Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science and eLife.