EE PhD Student Prachi Patel Receives Travel Award to Present Current Research

PhD Student, Prachi Patel, who is advised by EE Professor Nima Mesgarani, received a travel award to present her current research “Neural Modulation to direction and talker in spatial multi-talker speech perception" and "Representation of Timbre variations in Human Auditory Cortex" at ARO'20 conference.

“Presenting our findings at ARO’20 provided me with an opportunity to initiate discussions with experts in the field and receive invaluable feedback crucial for my scientific journey,” Patel said.

"Neural Modulation to direction and talker in spatial multi-talker speech perception" 

Humans can attend to speech of a talker in an acoustically complex, spatially separated multi-talker environment. How the human auditory cortex encodes speech of simultaneous spatially separated talkers and how attention to the location of a talker modulates the neural response is unknown. Using intracranial recordings from human auditory cortex we show what aspects of the neural response are modulated by attention to the direction of speech and by attention to the talker. Our findings provide a more complete understanding of how the natural spatially separated multi-talker speech is processed in human auditory cortex with significant implications for better dynamic models of speech processing in the human brain.

"Representation of Timbre variations in Human Auditory Cortex"

Humans can easily separate sound sources of the same perceptual dimensions- same duration, pitch, spatial location, loudness and reverberant environment but different timbre such as two different instruments playing the same note. While the representation of timbre has been studied using non-invasive methods in humans, there-by identifying which brain regions are crucial, how these areas represent timbre features is unclear. Using intracranial recordings from humans listening to music, we demonstrate how the high-gamma band of neural responses possess a representation rich enough to enable successful decoding of musical instruments and how this representation changes from primary to secondary auditory cortex. Our findings contribute to defining the functional organization of responses in the human auditory cortex, with implications for more accurate neurophysiological models of sound processing in humans.

By Eliese Lissner

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