When: Tuesday, November 25th, 2014 @ 5:00 PM – 6:00 PM
Where: Room 4.31/4.33, Informatics Forum, Crichton Street, University of Edinburgh
From sound waves to brain waves
Dr. Tobias Reichenbach (Imperial College, London)
Our auditory environment is highly complex: different speakers often talk at the same time, music plays in the background, cars drive by. The analysis of such a complex acoustic scene begins in the inner ear where sound is segregated into distinct frequency components, and where the mechanical sound signal is transduced into electrical signals in nerve fibers. The signals are then forwarded to the auditory brainstem and the cerebral cortex, where speech comprehension and music cognition are achieved.
I present recent work on the biomechanics of the inner ear, which possesses an active process to mechanically amplify weak sound signals. I then show how recordings from the auditory brainstem can inform on speech comprehension as well as on seletive attention to speech. Finally, I explore how neural oscillations of the cerebral cortex entrain to the beat of a musical signal, and how this entrainment can evidence the cognition of music as well as attention.
Tobias Reichenbach obtained an MSc in physics in 2004 from the University of Leipzig, Germany, with a thesis on theoretical elementary particles. He gained a PhD degree in physics in 2008 from the Ludwig-Maximilans-University in Munich, Germany, with a theoretical study on noisy pattern formation in biological systems, supervised by Prof. E. Frey. Since his postdoctoral work with Prof. A. J. Hudspeth at the Rockefeller University in New York, between 2008 and 2013, Tobias Reichenbach is combining theoretical and experimental methods to investigate the biophysics and neural mechanisms fo hearing. Since 2013 he is a Lecturer at the Department of Bioengineering, Imperial College London, where he focusses on the cognition of real-world acoustic signals such as speech and music.