When you are trying to listen to someone in a crowded room, your brain has to perform the following quite demanding tasks:
- The outputs of the early frequency analyses performed in the two inner ears must be sorted, so that the frequency components arising from the target voice are grouped together.
- The target voice must be tracked over time.
- Decisions must be made on how to interpret missing data, such as when part of the speech is masked by an extraneous noise.
- Attentional mechanisms must select the target voice for further processing.
- Linguistic analyses must be performed on the selected voice.
Our CBU research programme studies all of these processes, with the focus on identifying their neural bases and determining how they interact with each other. To do so, we combine traditional behavioural methods such as those derived from psychophysics, with electrophysiological, computational, and neuroimaging techniques. We are part of a critical mass of auditory researchers in Cambridge; to learn more about the breadth and depth of this research community please visit the Cambridge Hearing Group.
Much of our research concerns patients whose hearing has been restored surgically by a cochlear implant (CI). By directly stimulating the auditory system with electrical pulses, CIs allow us to provide new basic insights into how the auditory system works, and to try to understand and overcome the limitations on hearing through a CI. We work closely with clinicians and with industry, and develop new methods that help explain why some patients struggle to hear through their implant and to identify techniques that improve speech perception in noisy situations.