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Auditory Working Memory Degraded Acoustics EEG / MEG Executive Functions Neural Oscillations Papers Publications Speech

New Paper out: Wilsch, Hen­ry, Her­rmann et al.

Quite recent­ly Cere­bral Cor­tex published

Alpha Oscil­la­to­ry Dynam­ics Index Tem­po­ral Expec­ta­tion Ben­e­fits in Work­ing Memory

by Anna Wilsch, Mol­ly J Hen­ry, Björn Her­rmann, Burkhard Maess, and Jonas Obleser.

Check the abstract below or fol­low that link to get the full arti­cle.

Enhanced alpha pow­er com­pared with a base­line can reflect states of increased cog­ni­tive load, for exam­ple, when lis­ten­ing to speech in noise. Can knowl­edge about “when” to lis­ten (tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions) poten­tial­ly coun­ter­act cog­ni­tive load and con­comi­tant­ly reduce alpha? The cur­rent mag­ne­toen­cephalog­ra­phy (MEG) exper­i­ment induced cog­ni­tive load using an audi­to­ry delayed-match­ing-to-sam­ple task with 2 syl­la­bles S1 and S2 pre­sent­ed in speech-shaped noise. Tem­po­ral expec­ta­tion about the occur­rence of S1 was manip­u­lat­ed in 3 dif­fer­ent cue con­di­tions: “Neu­tral” (unin­for­ma­tive about forepe­ri­od), “ear­ly-cued” (short forepe­ri­od), and “late-cued” (long forepe­ri­od). Alpha pow­er through­out the tri­al was high­est when the cue was unin­for­ma­tive about the onset time of S1 (neu­tral) and low­est for the late-cued con­di­tion. This alpha-reduc­ing effect of late com­pared with neu­tral cues was most evi­dent dur­ing mem­o­ry reten­tion in noise and orig­i­nat­ed pri­mar­i­ly in the right insu­la. More­over, indi­vid­ual alpha effects dur­ing reten­tion account­ed best for observed indi­vid­ual per­for­mance dif­fer­ences between late-cued and neu­tral con­di­tions, indi­cat­ing a trade­off between allo­ca­tion of neur­al resources and the ben­e­fits drawn from tem­po­ral cues. Over­all, the results indi­cate that tem­po­ral expec­ta­tions can facil­i­tate the encod­ing of speech in noise, and con­comi­tant­ly reduce neur­al mark­ers of cog­ni­tive load.


  • Wilsch A, Hen­ry MJ, Her­rmann B, Maess B, Obleser J. Alpha Oscil­la­to­ry Dynam­ics Index Tem­po­ral Expec­ta­tion Ben­e­fits in Work­ing Mem­o­ry. Cereb Cor­tex. 2014 Jan 31. PMID: 24488943. [Open with Read]
Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception Auditory Working Memory Executive Functions fMRI Papers Perception Publications

New paper has been pub­lished in Cere­bral Cor­tex by Hen­ry, Her­rmann, & Obleser

When we lis­ten to sounds like speech and music, we have to make sense of dif­fer­ent acoustic fea­tures that vary simul­ta­ne­ous­ly along mul­ti­ple time scales. This means that we, as lis­ten­ers, have to selec­tive­ly attend to, but at the same time selec­tive­ly ignore, sep­a­rate but inter­twined fea­tures of a stimulus.

Brain regions associated with selective attending to and selective ignoring of temporal stimulus features.
Brain regions asso­ci­at­ed with selec­tive attend­ing to and selec­tive ignor­ing of tem­po­ral stim­u­lus fea­tures. (more)

A new­ly pub­lished fMRI study by Mol­ly Hen­ry, Björn Her­rmann, and Jonas Obleser found a net­work of brain regions that respond­ed oppo­site­ly to iden­ti­cal stim­u­lus char­ac­ter­is­tics depend­ing on whether they were rel­e­vant or irrel­e­vant, even when both stim­u­lus fea­tures involved atten­tion to time and tem­po­ral features.

You can check out the arti­cle here:



  • Hen­ry MJ, Her­rmann B, Obleser J. Selec­tive Atten­tion to Tem­po­ral Fea­tures on Nest­ed Time Scales. Cereb Cor­tex. 2013 Aug 26. PMID: 23978652. [Open with Read]
Auditory Speech Processing Degraded Acoustics EEG / MEG Neural Oscillations Noise-Vocoded Speech Papers Publications Speech

New paper accept­ed in Cere­bral Cor­tex [Update]

Obleser, J., Weisz, N. (in press) Sup­pressed alpha oscil­la­tions pre­dict intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of speech and its acoustic details. Cere­bral Cortex.


Paper is avail­able here.


  • Obleser J, Weisz N. Sup­pressed alpha oscil­la­tions pre­dict intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty of speech and its acoustic details. Cereb Cor­tex. 2012 Nov;22(11):2466–77. PMID: 22100354. [Open with Read]
Auditory Neuroscience Degraded Acoustics Editorial Notes fMRI Linguistics Papers Publications Speech

New arti­cles

May I humbly point you to three new arti­cles I had the hon­our to be involved in recently.

First­ly, Chris Petkov, Nikos Logo­thetis and I have put togeth­er a very broad overview over what we think is the cur­rent take on pro­cess­ing streams of voice, speech and, more gen­er­al­ly, vocal­i­sa­tion input in pri­mates. It appears in THE NEUROSCIENTIST and is aimed at (sic) neu­ro­sci­en­tists who are not in the lan­guage and audi­tion field on an every­day basis. It goes back all the way to Wer­nicke and also owes a lot to the hard work on func­tion­al and anatom­i­cal path­ways in the pri­mate brain by peo­ple like Jon Kaas, Troy Hack­ett, Josef Rauscheck­er, or Jef­frey Schmahmann.

Sec­ond­ly, Angela Friederi­ci, Son­ja A. Kotz, Sophie Scott and myself have a new arti­cle in press in HUMAN BRAIN MAPPING where we have tried and dis­en­tan­gled the gram­mat­i­cal vio­la­tion effects in speech that Angela had observed ear­li­er in the ante­ri­or supe­ri­or tem­po­ral gyrus and the effects of speech intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty Sophie had clear­ly pin­point­ed in the sul­cus just below. When com­bin­ing these two manip­u­la­tions into one exper­i­men­tal frame­work, the results turned out sur­pris­ing­ly clear-cut! Also, an impor­tant find­ing on the side: While the acti­va­tions we observed are of course bilat­er­al, any kind of true inter­ac­tion of gram­mar and intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty were locat­ed in the left hemi­sphere (both in infe­ri­or frontal and in supe­ri­or tem­po­ral areas). Watch out here for the upcom­ing pre-print.

Final­ly, recent data by Son­ja Kotz and I have some­what scru­ti­nised the way I see the the inter­play of the ante­ri­or and pos­te­ri­or STS, as well as the IFG and, impor­tant­ly, the left angu­lar gyrus (see the fig­ure below show­ing the response behav­iour of the left angu­lar gyrus over var­i­ous lev­els of degra­da­tion as well as seman­tic expectan­cy, with pooled data from the cur­rent as well as a pre­vi­ous study in J Neu­rosci by Obleser et al., 2007). These data, on a fine-tuned cloze-prob­a­bil­i­ty manip­u­la­tion to sen­tences of vary­ing degra­da­tion are avail­able now in CEREBRAL CORTEX. Thanks for you inter­est, and let me know what you think.



  • Petkov CI, Logo­thetis NK, Obleser J. Where are the human speech and voice regions, and do oth­er ani­mals have any­thing like them? Neu­ro­sci­en­tist. 2009 Oct;15(5):419–29. PMID: 19516047. [Open with Read]
  • Friederi­ci AD, Kotz SA, Scott SK, Obleser J. Dis­en­tan­gling syn­tax and intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty in audi­to­ry lan­guage com­pre­hen­sion. Hum Brain Mapp. 2010 Mar;31(3):448–57. PMID: 19718654. [Open with Read]
  • Obleser J, Kotz SA. Expectan­cy con­straints in degrad­ed speech mod­u­late the lan­guage com­pre­hen­sion net­work. Cereb Cor­tex. 2010 Mar;20(3):633–40. PMID: 19561061. [Open with Read]