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JSALT 2015 -- Week 1 Plenary

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Friday, July 10:

Reverse engineering the neural mechanisms involved in robust speech processing
Nima Mesgarani, Electrical Engineering Department, Columbia University

The brain empowers humans with remarkable abilities to navigate their acoustic environment in highly degraded conditions. This seemingly trivial task for normal hearing listeners is extremely challenging for individuals with auditory pathway disorders, and has proven very difficult to model and implement algorithmically in machines. In this talk, I will present the result of an interdisciplinary research effort where reverse-engineering methodologies are used to determine the computation and organization of neural responses in human auditory cortex leading to new biologically informed models incorporating the functional properties of key neural mechanisms. The neural responses are recorded invasively from electrodes surgically implanted on the cortical surface of epilepsy patients, providing a highly detailed view of the neural activity. A better understanding of the neural mechanisms involved in speech processing can greatly impact the current models of speech perception and lead to human-like automatic speech processing technologies.


Nima Mesgarani is an assistant professor of Electrical Engineering at Columbia University. He received his Ph.D. from University of Maryland where he worked on neuromorphic speech technologies and neurophysiology of mammalian auditory cortex. He was a postdoctoral scholar in Center for Language and Speech Processing at Johns Hopkins University, and the neurosurgery department of University of California San Francisco before joining Columbia in fall 2013.

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