Hearing As A Product of the Brain: How do non-auditory processes affect what and how we hear?

In a series of basic research experiments, we investigate how attentional processes, emotions, memory and the somatosensory system influence hearing. We hypothesize that non-auditory processes define the current state of auditory brain areas where the incoming external sounds are processed. We emphasize that hearing is the result of both, an externally presented sound reaching the brain and the current state of the brain.

We are focussing on the investigation of oscillatory brain activity in the auditory cortex and the influence of non-auditory networks modulating these local modulations associated with non-auditory influence on hearing. We postulate that, depending on the experimental manipulation, different task-specific brain areas are part of the modulating-network.

Despite the examination of neuronal mechanisms in ‘normal’ audition we are interested in auditory (phantom) perception in participants suffering from chronic tinnitus. We suggest that non-auditory networks maintain tinnitus-related auditory activity so that a persistent phantom sound is perceived. We test this hypothesis in a series of experiments designed according to the experiments run in normal-hearing participants.

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