The signal and the noise: A neural-oscillations perspective on the listening brain

Jonas Obleser - Universität zu Lübeck

The signal and the noise: A neural-oscillations perspective on the listening brain

What can we learn about the human mind and brain from studying the auditory modality? Listening is more than hearing, and it often challenges our abilities to regulate attention dynamically in time and space. Listeners must be able to follow the temporal structure of acoustic input (i.e., to “entrain” to their sensory environment), but they also require mechanisms to actively disengage (i.e., inhibit) brain areas processing task-irrelevant information, auditory or other. A guiding hypothesis in our work is that neural oscillatory entrainment (~1–6 Hz) indexes a listener’s faithful tracking of “external” auditory events, while the power of alpha oscillations (~8–13 Hz) plays a sizeable role in phenomena of “internal” neural communication such as top-down gain control and prediction. I will present recent electro-/magnetoencephalography evidence from our lab on how listeners use both mechanisms simultaneously to regulate auditory attention, and how these two distinct yet complementary neurobiological mechanisms of entrainment versus inhibition provide non-redundant information about an individual’s behavioural goals.

If you would like to meet the speaker, please contact Jutta Kray.

Jonas Obleser’s website.