Project Acronym: MIPA
Project Number: VVGS-2020-1514
Funding Agency: Internal grant system VVGS UPJS
In everyday listening situations, humans are often exposed to multiple concurrent stimuli in complex environments. Spatial auditory processing allows us to cope with such situations by separating sounds based on their location and by allowing us to focus attention on the sounds and locations of interest while suppressing the background noise. The neural mechanisms underlying these processes are currently not well understood. Non-invasive brain imaging methods like functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) and electro-encephalography (EEG) provide new ways of examining the neural activity during cortical processing. However, their usefulness is limited by their spatial and temporal resolution, as well as by the data analysis methods used to process the neuroimaging data. The current project proposes to perform a series of brain imaging studies combined with novel advanced computational analysis to study 1) the auditory mechanisms of distance perception, and 2) how automatic attention affects spatial auditory sensitivity. In the auditory distance study, an fMRI experiment will be combined with advanced computational fMRI data analysis techniques of multi-voxel pattern analysis (MVPA) and deep-learning neural networks (DLNN), to reveal complex hierarchical representation of cues and percepts represented within the same cortical areas. In the attention study, EEG will be combined with fMRI to examine the distributed networks involved in attentional control. Such combining of multimodal imaging data improves spatiotemporal resolution of the data, while requiring advanced data-fusion techniques. The results will be important, e.g., for development of new prosthetic devices and brain-computer interfaces. Additional goals of the project include exchange of skills between EU and US partners, organization of workshops, and establishing of new long-term collaborations which will lead to strengthening of the European Research Area.
Jyrki Ahveninen, Martinos Center, Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School