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Fulbright Specialists Program

Spatial hearing and virtual reality: workshop and research

Duration: 4/30/2022 – 5/21/2022 (postponed until May 2023)

Project summary:

Cognitive and computational neuroscience study on the function of the human brain by using neuroimaging and computational tools. The results obtained in this research can improve many aspects of our lives. For example, spatial hearing is important for normal hearing listeners in many every day situations, and the hearing-impaired are often particularly challenged in complex listening situations. Specifically, humans are constantly exposed to adverse listening conditions, including background noise and reverberation. Recent studies show significant progress in identifying how listeners recalibrate their auditory processing in order to correctly perceive speech and sound source location in such settings, and how they memorize and consolidate knowledge of the new calibrations. In addition, novel virtual reality tools have been developed that incorporate key findings from auditory cognitive neuroscience, in order to help hearing-impaired individuals to improve their auditory processing abilities. In this project, an expert education and research visit is proposed with the main goal to co-host a workshop and to investigate auditory perception and its adaptability at the P. J. Safarik University Perception and Cognition Laboratory. The specialist will (a) co-organize a workshop on “Cognitive neuroscience of auditory and cross-modal perception”, (b) give lectures to present recent results of using virtual reality in spatial hearing research and applications in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired individuals, (c) consult on research on adaptation in spatial hearing at PCL and consult on application of virtual reality tools in this research. The resulting knowledge transfer through the workshop and lectures will advance cognitive and computational neuroscience research in Slovakia and in the Central-eastern Europe, as the workshop attracts international audience, and application of virtual reality to spatial hearing research will enhance our understanding on the mechanisms and processes involved in perceptual adaptation, e.g., to reverberation, and it will improve existing behavioral experiments and training applications for hearing-impaired individuals.