Dr. Bharath Chandrasekaran, Professor and Vice Chair of Research in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders, University of Pittsburgh
Friday, December 2, 9:00–10:30 a.m. EST, 127 Moore Building and virtually via Zoom
Speech signals are multidimensional, acoustically variable, and temporally ephemeral. A significant computational challenge in speech perception (and more broadly, audition) is categorization, that is, mapping continuous, multidimensional, and variable acoustic signals into discrete, behavioral equivalence classes. Despite the enormity of this computational challenge, native speech perception is rapid and automatic. In contrast, learning novel speech categories is effortful, and is considered a challenging computational task for the mature brain. In this talk, Dr. Chandrasekaran elucidate mechanisms underlying how novel speech categories are acquired and represented in the mature brain. He will demonstrate that (1) neural representations of novel speech categories arise within a few hundred trials in the adult associative auditory cortex, (2) pre-attentive signal reconstruction in the early auditory system is subject to behaviorally relevant experience-dependent plasticity, and (3) the robustness of structural and functional connectivity within the sound-to- reward cortico-striatal stream relate to individual differences in learning outcome. Finally, he will discuss ongoing experiments that leverage neurobiology to design optimal behavioral training and targeted interventions.