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Editorial Notes Events Posters Publications

See you at SfN

Soci­ety for Neu­ro­science 2015 is com­ing up. Please come and check out our stuff! Also, Jonas will be chair­ing the sym­po­sium on cor­ti­cal encod­ing of com­plex sound (with talks by for­mer PhD stu­dent Julia Erb and for­mer Post­doc Björn Her­rmann) on tues­day morning.

Posters by the Obleser lab:

Tues­day morn­ing Session:
FIEDLER et al., In-ear-EEG …, Board M46
WILSCH et al., Cor­ti­ca pat­terns of alpha pow­er …, Board Y1
Wednes­day after­noon Session:
LIM et al., Evoked respons­es and alpha oscil­la­tions …, Board BB37

See you there.


Editorial Notes

2015 — Embrac­ing Change in the Obleser Lab

Time flies: The Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion group aka The Obleser Lab has just entered its fifth year. We took off prop­er­ly in ear­ly 2011, so this is a good point in time to briefly recap. We have had four excit­ing and very pro­duc­tive years so far, and this fifth year is bring­ing a lot of excit­ing turn-over as well. First, new faces have joined our group:

Dr. Sophie Herb­st a psy­chol­o­gist with keen inter­ests in time per­cep­tion joined us as a post­doc, com­ing from Niko Busch’s lab at the Char­ité Berlin.

Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Lorenz Fiedler joined us to help us build real-time links between EEG and hear­ing aids, as planned in our Volk­swa­gen project.

Sec­ond, a few great tal­ents have moved on with the begin­ning of 2015:

Antje Strauß just received her Dr. rer. nat. (PhD) from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leipzig and is now at the GIPSA lab, Uni­ver­si­ty of Greno­ble, France.

Dr. Mol­ly Hen­ry and Dr. Björn Her­rmann have both tak­en up new Post­doc­tor­al jobs at the Uni­ver­si­ty of West­ern Ontario, Lon­don, Ontario, CA. They will be work­ing with Jes­si­ca Grahn and Ingrid John­srude, respec­tive­ly.

Dr. Alex Brand­mey­er could not resist a fan­tas­tic offer by Dol­by Sys­tems Inc., San Fran­cis­co to join them as a research scientist.

Ear­li­er in autumn 2014 already, Julia Erb had tak­en up a post­doc posi­tion with Elia Formisano at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Maas­tricht.

… the best of luck and many thanks to all the new AC alumni!

Last­ly, Jonas as head of the group has just been appoint­ed Pro­fes­sor for Research Meth­ods and Sta­tis­tics at the (new­ly-found­ed) Depart­ment of Psy­chol­o­gy, Uni­ver­si­ty of Lübeck, Ger­many.

These great news also imply that the Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion group as a whole will, as con­ceived by the Max Planck Soci­ety when pro­vid­ing this five-year start-up fund­ing, slow­ly trans­plant to a new place, name­ly: Lübeck, over the year to come. Watch this space! Yet, the labels “auditorycognition.com” and “obleserlab.com” will sure­ly remain active and move with us.

Editorial Notes

Hooray for Dr. des. Julia Erb …

… the first PhD stu­dent from the Audi­to­ry Cog­ni­tion group, start­ed in Jan­u­ary 2011, to defend her PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) thesis.

Julia pre­sent­ed her work last thurs­day to the defense com­mit­tee, and will now move on to a great Post­doc posi­tion – it seems she will have a hard choice between two great options.

Thank you Julia for the great sci­ence and the great fun you brought to the lab! And thanks to the exter­nal exam­in­er as well as to Erich Schröger and all com­mit­tee mem­bers at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Leipzig, who kind­ly col­lab­o­rate on grad­u­at­ing our students.


We wish you all the best

-Mem­bers of AC

Ageing Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Speech Processing Clinical relevance Degraded Acoustics Executive Functions fMRI Hearing Loss Noise-Vocoded Speech Papers Publications Speech

New paper in press: Erb & Obleser, Fron­tiers in Sys­tems Neuroscience

Julia Erb just got accept­ed the third study of her PhD project,

Upreg­u­la­tion of cog­ni­tive con­trol net­works in old­er adults’ speech comprehension

It will appear in Fron­tiers in Sys­tems Neu­ro­science soon.

The data are an exten­sion (in old­er adults) of Julia’s Jour­nal of Neu­ro­science paper ear­li­er this year.


  • Erb J, Obleser J. Upreg­u­la­tion of cog­ni­tive con­trol net­works in old­er adults’ speech com­pre­hen­sion. Front Syst Neu­rosci. 2013 Dec 24;7:116. PMID: 24399939. [Open with Read]
Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception Degraded Acoustics Executive Functions Papers Publications

Lis­ten­ing: The strat­e­gy mat­ters [Update]

In press on Neuropsychologia

Thal­a­m­ic and pari­etal brain mor­phol­o­gy pre­dicts audi­to­ry cat­e­go­ry learning


Cat­e­go­riz­ing sounds is vital for adap­tive human behav­ior. Accord­ing­ly, chang­ing lis­ten­ing sit­u­a­tions (exter­nal noise, but also periph­er­al hear­ing loss in aging) require lis­ten­ers to flex­i­bly adjust their cat­e­go­riza­tion strate­gies, e.g., switch amongst avail­able acoustic cues. How­ev­er, lis­ten­ers dif­fer con­sid­er­ably in these adap­tive capa­bil­i­ties. For this rea­son, we employed vox­el-based mor­phom­e­try (VBM) in our study (Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia, In press), in order to assess the degree to which indi­vid­ual brain mor­phol­o­gy is pre­dic­tive of such adap­tive lis­ten­ing behavior.


  • Scharinger M1, Hen­ry MJ2, Erb J2, Mey­er L3, Obleser J2. Thal­a­m­ic and pari­etal brain mor­phol­o­gy pre­dicts audi­to­ry cat­e­go­ry learn­ing. Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia. 2014 Jan;53:75–83. PMID: 24035788. [Open with Read]
Auditory Cortex Auditory Neuroscience Auditory Perception Auditory Speech Processing Degraded Acoustics Executive Functions fMRI Noise-Vocoded Speech Papers Perception Publications Speech

New paper out: Erb, Hen­ry, Eis­ner & Obleser — Jour­nal of Neuroscience

We are proud to announce that PhD stu­dent Julia Erb just came out with a paper issued in Jour­nal  of Neu­ro­science:

The Brain Dynam­ics of Rapid Per­cep­tu­al Adap­ta­tion to Adverse Lis­ten­ing Conditions

Effects of adaptation

Grab it here:


Lis­ten­ers show a remark­able abil­i­ty to quick­ly adjust to degrad­ed speech input. Here, we aimed to iden­ti­fy the neur­al mech­a­nisms of such short-term per­cep­tu­al adap­ta­tion. In a sparse-sam­pling, car­diac-gat­ed func­tion­al mag­net­ic res­o­nance imag­ing (fMRI) acqui­si­tion, human lis­ten­ers heard and repeat­ed back 4‑band-vocod­ed sentences 


  • Erb J, Hen­ry MJ, Eis­ner F, Obleser J. The brain dynam­ics of rapid per­cep­tu­al adap­ta­tion to adverse lis­ten­ing con­di­tions. J Neu­rosci. 2013 Jun 26;33(26):10688–97. PMID: 23804092. [Open with Read]
Editorial Notes Events Posters Publications

Neu­ro­science 2012 Posters and Talks

Dear friends and col­leagues, SfN Participants!

Please go and check out our posters in New Orleans this year.
It’s all hap­pen­ing in the Mon­day (15 Octo­ber) AM posters ses­sion, plus a bit of Tues­day AM, and one talk on mon­day AM as well. Thanks for your support!

321.11 — Selec­tive atten­tion to audi­to­ry tem­po­ral fea­tures sep­a­rates domain-gen­er­al from tim­ing-spe­cif­ic func­tions
(in the Nanosym­po­sium 321. “Tim­ing and Tem­po­ral Pro­cess­ing I”)

366.05/FF7 — Alpha-band activ­i­ty reflects trade-off between tem­po­ral pre­pared­ness and cog­ni­tive load for speech in noise

368.10/II3 — Cor­ti­cal dynam­ics and sub­cor­ti­cal mor­phol­o­gy pre­dict rapid adap­ta­tion to chang­ing spec­tro-tem­po­ral cues

368.14/II7 — Per­cep­tu­al adap­ta­tion to degrad­ed speech: Tun­ing in cor­ti­cal and sub­cor­ti­cal brain struc­tures

368.21/II14 — Slow fre­quen­cy mod­u­la­tion entrains neur­al delta oscil­la­tions and deter­mines human lis­ten­ing behav­ior

595.14/CCC5 — With­in-sub­ject alpha pow­er is neg­a­tive­ly cor­re­lat­ed with sub­jec­tive intel­li­gi­bil­i­ty — A study of degrad­ed word com­pre­hen­sion in MEG.

595.23/CCC14 — Func­tion­al lat­er­al­iza­tion of the infe­ri­or frontal gyrus dur­ing sen­tence pro­cess­ing: The influ­ence of struc­tur­al lat­er­al­iza­tion and hand­ed­ness

Degraded Acoustics fMRI Noise-Vocoded Speech Papers Publications Speech

New paper in press: Erb et al., Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia [Update]

I am very proud to announce our first paper that was entire­ly planned, con­duct­ed, analysed and writ­ten up since our group has been in exis­tence. Julia joined me as the first PhD stu­dent in Decem­ber 2010, and has since been busy doing awe­some work. Check out her first paper!

Audi­to­ry skills and brain mor­phol­o­gy pre­dict indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in adap­ta­tion to degrad­ed speech

Noise-vocod­ed speech is a spec­tral­ly high­ly degrad­ed sig­nal, but it pre­serves the tem­po­ral enve­lope of speech. Lis­ten­ers vary con­sid­er­ably in their abil­i­ty to adapt to this degrad­ed speech sig­nal. Here, we hypoth­e­sized that indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in adap­ta­tion to vocod­ed speech should be pre­dictable by non-speech audi­to­ry, cog­ni­tive, and neu­roanatom­i­cal fac­tors. We test­ed eigh­teen nor­mal-hear­ing par­tic­i­pants in a short-term vocod­ed speech-learn­ing par­a­digm (lis­ten­ing to 100 4- band-vocod­ed sen­tences). Non-speech audi­to­ry skills were assessed using ampli­tude mod­u­la­tion (AM) rate dis­crim­i­na­tion, where mod­u­la­tion rates were cen­tered on the speech-rel­e­vant rate of 4 Hz. Work­ing mem­o­ry capac­i­ties were eval­u­at­ed, and struc­tur­al MRI scans were exam­ined for anatom­i­cal pre­dic­tors of vocod­ed speech learn­ing using vox­el-based mor­phom­e­try. Lis­ten­ers who learned faster to under­stand degrad­ed speech showed small­er thresh­olds in the AM dis­crim­i­na­tion task. Anatom­i­cal brain scans revealed that faster learn­ers had increased vol­ume in the left thal­a­mus (pul­v­inar). These results sug­gest that adap­ta­tion to vocod­ed speech ben­e­fits from indi­vid­ual AM dis­crim­i­na­tion skills. This abil­i­ty to adjust to degrad­ed speech is fur­ther­more reflect­ed anatom­i­cal­ly in an increased vol­ume in an area of the thal­a­mus, which is strong­ly con­nect­ed to the audi­to­ry and pre­frontal cor­tex. Thus, indi­vid­ual audi­to­ry skills that are not speech-spe­cif­ic and left thal­a­mus gray mat­ter vol­ume can pre­dict how quick­ly a lis­ten­er adapts to degrad­ed speech. Please be in touch with Julia Erb if you are inter­est­ed in a preprint as soon as we get hold of the final, type­set manuscript.

[Update#1]: Julia has also pub­lished a blog post on her work.

[Update#2] Paper is avail­able here.


  • Erb J, Hen­ry MJ, Eis­ner F, Obleser J. Audi­to­ry skills and brain mor­phol­o­gy pre­dict indi­vid­ual dif­fer­ences in adap­ta­tion to degrad­ed speech. Neu­ropsy­cholo­gia. 2012 Jul;50(9):2154–64. PMID: 22609577. [Open with Read]