Research Areas: Language, Sensation & Perception

Research Focus: The temporal foundations of language, speech, and hearing

Lab Website:  http://psych.nyu.edu/clash/poeppellab/



In the context of the lab’s broader research program on the neural foundations of language comprehension, speech perception, and auditory cognition, we are pursuing several ECoG projects:

(i) Language comprehension. These experiments (in collaboration with Lucia Melloni) focus on how listeners parse continuous speech into the hierarchical linguistic units – e.g. words, phrases – that underlie comprehension. We employ state-of-art frequency-domain analyses to disentangle cortical activity concurrently tracking different levels of linguistic structure.

(ii) Hemispheric asymmetries. A project focusing on the neurophysiological foundations of asymmetry investigates lateralization in processing auditory speech. Using ECoG and speech materials generated with novel filtering techniques (modulation transfer function), we test computationally specific models of temporal and spectral auditory feature integration in left/right auditory cortices.

(iii) The interaction of perception and action systems. One project tests the hypothesis that efference copies generated by the motor system constitute a possible mechanism to predictively facilitate auditory processing. By comparing situations in which patients perceive, imagine or produce syllables, we assess the possible role of the motor system in prediction generation and how predictions modulate auditory neurophysiological responses.  Another set of studies (in collaboration with Bijan Pesaran) pursues how knowledge of possible articulator movements contributes to the refinement of auditory representations of speech when input is ambiguous. By instructing patients to discriminate between noisy speech sounds while maintaining specific motor states, we investigate how motor activity biases the tuning of auditory representations and influences perceptual decisions.

Lab Members: David Poeppel (PI); Luc Arnal, Suzanne Dikker, Nai Ding, Adeen Flinker, Xing Tian (Postdoctoral Fellows); Keith Doelling, Gwyneth Lewis, Xiangbin Teng (PhD students); Jess Rowland (Lab manager); Jeff Walker (MEG Lab manager)