Professor Carney receives renewed NIH funding

July 1, 2019


Congratulations to Professor Laurel Carney on the renewal of her NIH R01 for her project, “Auditory Processing of Complex Sounds.” The Carney Lab hypothesizes that midbrain sensitivity to neural amplitude and frequency fluctuations in peripheral responses provides a robust representation of complex sounds, including speech. Aim 1 tests this hypothesis with physiological and behavioral studies of midbrain responses to stimuli that combine these cues, including “designer” stimuli with conflicting cues to determine how they may interact. These results will be used to test and refine a new computational model for midbrain responses with sensitivity to these cues. Aim 2 tests the hypothesis with physiological responses of midbrain neurons to voiced speech, to directly test model predictions based on characterization of each neuron’s sensitivity to these cues. Understanding the role in speech coding of the amplitude and frequency fluctuations in peripheral responses is clinically significant because these fluctuations are vulnerable to SNHL. In Aim 3, we will test the hypothesis that amplitude and frequency fluctuations can be manipulated in synthetic speech to influence intelligibility in human listeners with or without SNHL, in quiet and in noise. Preliminary results from modeling, physiological, and behavioral studies support the proposed hypotheses. Ultimately, our goal is to extend this approach to manipulate fluctuation contrasts in running speech, to effectively “correct” sound for the impaired ear.