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"Interindividual Variability and Hidden Deficits in Audition: Understanding the Mechanisms and Developing Novel Audiological Tools"

Mercredis de STMS welcome Emmanuel Ponsot, CNRS researcher, in his new team on Wednesday 16th, February 22,  at midday. You can participate and speak directly with him through our Ircam Zoom link during the seminar. From February 18th, you can listen to it only throuth the intranet Ircam Media:

The idea of this seminar is to discuss the main lines of the research project I will develop within the PDS team over the next few years, and illustrate my talk with examples taken from previous works.


My research is concerned with the characterization and the modeling of auditory processes engaged with complex acoustical signals such as speech or music. I have a specific interest in understanding how and why these processes vary between individuals. Such interindividual differences in auditory perception can be observed in an everyday situation (at least before covid): understanding speech in a cocktail-party situation, i.e. when our auditory system must filter out background noises and signals from competitive speakers to extract and decode the message of a given target speaker. Strikingly, a recent large-scale study based on ~100,000 individuals who visited the Massachusetts Eye and Ear audiology department for various noise-related hearing problems has brought to light that about 10% of them had actually similar, clinically-normal audiograms ( How can we explain that despite having clinically-normal auditory profiles these individuals present hearing problems in daily life? More broadly, what are the mechanisms underlying interindividual variability in auditory perception?

Starting from this example, I will present the general approach of my research project, which aims to address these questions. The proposed approach tightly integrates experimental characterization in humans (psychophysics and electrophysiology) and computational modeling. The main goal is to identify and assess the “latent parameter” of inter-individual variability in the different dimensions of cocktail-party listening, recreated in laboratory settings. By following the same approach in individuals of different age groups, with or without audiometric deficits, the goal of this project is to provide novel mechanistic insights into the origins of variability of auditory perception between individuals – in particular, regarding speech-in-noise intelligibility – and examine how it relates to age and environmental factors. I will discuss several translational and clinical perspectives of the project, ranging from studies on animal models to the development of novel audiological tools that will more effectively apply to the wide spectrum of hearing disorders.

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