Auditory and Higher Order Language Processing
Full course description
Although the human visual system has been studied extensively in cognitive neuroscience, so far only little is known about the auditory and speech system: How do we segregate the sound of a Ferrari from the background sounds of other running car engines, or the voice of a friend from that of many others in a crowd? How is auditory information integrated with other senses such as vision or touch? In the last few years, cognitive neuroscience research has set a number of milestones in our understanding about how our brain manages these tasks. This knowledge is crucial because hearing and communicating with the environment and with others is one of the most essential human cognitive skills.
This course aims to develop students’ knowledge about the human auditory and speech system. The course starts with basic neural anatomy and considers how this might constrain but also assist auditory processing. Students learn about the basics of speech segregation and perception. Bottom-up and top-down processes are addressed. Finally, the course discusses how the human mind selects relevant auditory, visual and linguistic information in order to communicate.
Students are able to understand:
- anatomy and function of the auditory system, of the speech system (separately for comprehension and production), and of cross modal integration;
- methods used in CN to study anatomy and function (in animals, humans: staining, electrophysiology, psychophysics, fMRI, TMS);
- relevant aspects of the method to quantify cognition (EEG oscillation, ERP components, fMRI);
- experimental design to study open questions in hearing and speech processing (tasks, stimuli);
- open issues of how the brains solves problems like Gestalt processing/grouping, figure ground segregation/streaming, comprehension, production, error monitoring, multisensory/cross modal integration.
Students are able to:
- acquire critical thinking skills of limits of methods, designs, tasks and theories in the context of auditory and language processing;
- acquire creative thinking skills to come with new ideas by merging knowledge from different fields (i.e. comprehension and production, or by transferring ideas from one to another field (speech motor integration and its role in production).