Welcome to the pecka lab
We study mechanisms and circuits by which the brain selectively codes and processes sounds of interest.
How do we listen to a person of interest in a crowd?
We often encounter sounds from many sources at once, yet our brain unravels this mix of sensory inputs into distinct information streams. This “auditory scene analysis” (ASA) is fundamental in our everyday life.
However, comprehensive insight into how our brains achieve ASA is still sparse.
Hearing impairment, which is the most frequent sensory deficit today, is highly detrimental to ASA. Consequently, many – especially elderly – people are deprived of this vital ability. Yet ASA cannot be restored by the use of current therapeutic devices such as electrical cochlear implants (CIs).
To gain a functional understanding of the neural mechanisms of ASA and to overcome current technological limitations, the lab implements complementary, innovative experimental techniques and paradigms.
To find out more about our research or view our publications, please use the links in the text on the right-hand column or the menu above.
The current projects in the lab are:
- SONIC SCENES: We perform multi-channel wireless chronic recordings in auditory cortex during ASA performance. Rodents are trained to exploit complex closed-loop acoustic feedback while freely navigating in an arena. Active decision making based on acoustic cues allows studying the role of context-specificity (e.g. relevance) for neuronal processing during ASA.
- spa-CI-al: We investigate synaptic and cellular mechanisms of spatial processing in individual neurons in the rodent brain stem. We also compare to what extent the apparent dissimilarities in spatial sensitivity between normal and CI-based hearing underlie central processing inefficiencies or arise already on the input level, i.e. are due to differences in the peripheral activation patterns.
- HEARING IN CONTEXT: The insight gained from the projects above are used to optimize stimulation paradigms for studying human hearing during ASA. To this end, we employ psychophysical tests of spatial hearing in background noise or with multiple sound sources in a virtual reality environment. One central goal is to improve the spatial sensitivity of CI patients.