Systems Physiology of Learning

 AG Basic mechanisms of auditory pattern recognition

Figure: Who is who?

Principal investigator: PD Dr. rer. nat. Peter Heil
Ph.D. students: Björn Friedrich, M.Sc.; Adam J. Peterson, M.Sc.
Technical assistant: Gabriele Schöps

Research field:

My group is interested in various aspects of hearing, from perception to receptor physiology. In the past, I have been particularly interested in the processing of simple and complex sounds, such as frequency-modulated (FM) tones and amplitude transients, in the auditory system and underlying neural mechanisms. FM sounds are now widely used in the Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology to study mechanisms of discrimination learning and category formation. More recently, one line of research focusses on stimulus detection, as functions of various stimulus parameters and under different conditions, and on stimulus discrimination and their underlying neural bases. The research involves measurements of detection and discrimination thresholds with psychoacoustic procedures, of reactions times, of the electroencephalogram (EEG), of single neuron responses, particularly from auditory-nerve fibers, and modeling.

A second line of research, conducted in cooperation with members of the Special Lab Non-invasive Brain Imaging, focusses on exploring the context-dependence of stimulus-evoked responses from the human auditory cortex. We pursue this issue using magnetoencephalography (MEG). As part of this research, we have gained considerable insights into the mechanisms by which stimulus-evoked responses are generated and, based on these insights, have successfully developed variance-stabilizing transformations required for correct comparisons of grand means across conditions.

A third line of research aims at identifying physiological correlates of auditory working memory in the auditory cortex, using a convergent approach in humans and non-human primates. This research is conducted jointly with members of the Special Labs Non-invasive Brain Imaging and Primate Neurobiology.