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  EPL Neural Coding Group

Who we are

The Neural Coding Group is part of the Eaton-Peabody Laboratories at the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary.  Members of the lab are also affiliated with the Harvard-MIT Program in Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology, the MIT Research Laboratory of Electronics, and the Department of Otology and Laryngology at the Harvard Medical School.

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Current Members

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Collaborators

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Alumni/ae

Spatio-temporal response pattern of the auditory nerve to a harmonic complex sound.

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Research Interests

The long-term goal of the group's  research is to determine how speech and other biologically-significant sounds are processed by the auditory system, with a focus on understanding the neural mechanisms underlying auditory perception.  To achieve this goal, we combine three major techniques of integrative neuroscience: neurophysiological (single-unit recordings), computational (mathematical models) and behavioral (perceptual experiments).  Currently, efforts are focused in two major directions: (1)  studies of the neural mechanisms of binaural and spatial hearing in the auditory brainstem, with particular emphasis on everyday, challenging acoustic environments that include multiple sources and reverberation, (2) studies aimed at improving processing strategies in cochlear implants, particularly bilateral implants.  In the latter studies, we are especially interested in the consequences of early-onset deafness on binaural processing by central auditory neurons and whether the resulting abnormalities can be reversed by appropriate stimulation though cochlear implants. 

These lines of research are related in that, while normal-hearing listeners excel at understanding speech in noisy and reverberant environments, hearing-impaired and cochlear-implant patients often have difficulties in these adverse environments, even if they do well when facing a single speaker in a quiet room.  Similar difficulties processing speech in adverse environments are also encountered by artificial systems for speech transmission and recognition.  To understand these differences between normal listeners on the one hand, and hearing impaired listeners and artificial systems on the other hand will require an integrated knowledge of the auditory processing of speech, binaural processing in the auditory brainstem, and how these mechanisms are altered by pathology, especially when it occurs early in life.  Such knowledge will be invaluable for a rational design of improved hearing aids and auditory implants.

Selected Publications

bulletNeural coding of pitch and music
bulletNeural correlates of binaural and spatial hearing
bulletPhysiology of cochlear implants
bulletPerception and neural coding of temporal envelope
bulletNeural representation of speech
bulletComputational models of auditory neurons
bulletPhysiological basis of masking and frequency selectivity

Recent Poster Presentations

Courses taught by members of the group

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Harvard SHBT 205 Neural Coding and Perception of Sound

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MIT HST.722 Brain Mechanisms of Hearing and Speech

 

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Comments to Bertrand_Delgutte at meei.harvard.edu