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Studying natural speech processing at the phonemic level using EEG

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Please note: This talk is starting at 16.30

Abstract: In recent years it has been firmly established that EEG and MEG reliably entrain to the amplitude envelope of natural speech stimuli. This has facilitated the development of exciting new paradigms for investigating the neural mechanisms underlying natural speech processing. However, it has been unclear whether this envelope entrainment phenomenon simply reflects the lower-level passive following of the spectrotemporal/acoustic stimulus dynamics or whether it indexes something specifically to do with speech processing. In particular, there has been no evidence that EEG or MEG entrainment reflects processing at the level of categorical speech perception. In this talk I will attempt to convince you that EEG is sensitive not just to the low-level acoustic properties of speech, but also to higher-level phonetic features of this most important of signals. And I will outline a number of paradigms and methodological approaches for eliciting EEG indices of speech-specific processing that should be useful in advancing our understanding of receptive speech processing in particular populations.

Biography: Ed Lalor received a BE degree in Electronic Engineering from University College Dublin (UCD), Ireland in 1998 and an MSc in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California in 1999. After periods working as a silicon design engineer and a primary school teacher for children with learning difficulties, Ed joined MIT ’s Media Lab Europe, where he worked from 2002-2005 as a research scientist investigating brain-computer interfacing and attentional mechanisms in the brain. This led to a PhD in Biomedical Engineering which was completed through UCD in 2006. After 2 years as a postdoctoral researcher at the Nathan Kline Institute for Psychiatric Research and as an adjunct assistant professor in the City College of New York, he returned to Ireland as a Government of Ireland Postdoctoral Research Fellow based at Trinity College Dublin. He was awarded a Marie Curie Fellowship to join University College London’s Institute of Ophthalmology as a Research Associate in 2010. But he returned to Trinity College Dublin in 2011 as an Assistant Professor in the School of Engineering and as a Principal Investigator in both the Institute of Neuroscience and the Centre for Bioengineering.

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