Listening Challenges of Multi-Talker Environments: Behavioral and Neural Mechanisms of Focused and Distributed Attention @
Jan 24 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Listening Challenges of Multi-Talker Environments: Behavioral and Neural Mechanisms of Focused and Distributed Attention

Speaker: Elana Golumbic

A primary challenge posed by many real-life settings is that of appropriately allocating attention to a desired speaker in noisy, multi-talker situations. Successfully accomplishing this feat depends on many factors, related both to the acoustic properties of the competing speech as well as on the listener’s behavioral goals. In this talk I will discuss recent data from our lab, where we study the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying the ability (and the challenges) of allocating attentional resources among competing speakers, under naturalistic conditions. We will discuss the effects of acoustic load, the type of attention required, and the employment of different ‘listening strategies’, as well as the factors contributing to individual differences in attentional abilities. We will also discuss the implication of our findings on the classic debate between ‘early’ and ‘late’ selection models of attention and what we have learned about the capacity for parallel processing of concurrent speech and potential ‘processing bottleneck’.

Zoom link:

Neuroscience Institute Distinguished Speaker Series: Elizabeth Buffalo @
Jan 27 @ 4:00 PM – 5:30 PM

Elizabeth A. Buffalo, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair: Department of Physiology and Biophysics, University of Washington School of Medicine; Interim Associate Director for Research, Washington National Primate Research Center

Reconciling the Spatial and Mnemonic Views of the Hippocampus

Our understanding of the hippocampus has been framed by two landmark discoveries: the discovery by Scoville and Millner that hippocampal damage causes profound and persistent amnesia and the discovery by O’Keefe and Dostrovsky of hippocampal place cells in rodents. However, it has been unclear to what extent spatial representations are present in the primate brain and how to reconcile these representations with the known mnemonic function of this region. I will discuss a series of experiments that have examined neural activity in the hippocampus and adjacent entorhinal cortex in monkeys performing behavioral tasks including spatial memory tasks in a virtual environment. These data demonstrate that behavioral task structure has a significant influence on hippocampal activity, with neurons responding to all salient events within the task. Taken together, these data are consistent with the idea that activity in the hippocampus tracks ongoing experience in support of memory formation.

Beth Buffalo is the Wayne E. Crill Professor and Chair of Physiology and Biophysics at the University of Washington. She is also Core Faculty in the Washington National Primate Research Center. She received a B.A. in Philosophy from Wellesley College, and an M.A. (Philosophy) and Ph.D. (Neuroscience) from the University of California, San Diego. The mission of her lab is to advance our understanding of the neural mechanisms that support learning and memory. Her lab uses large-scale neurophysiological recordings in behaving nonhuman primates to examine the role of neural circuits and dynamics in memory and cognition. She has received several awards for her research including the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences for her innovative, multidisciplinary study of the hippocampus and the neural basis of memory.


CMU Neural Engineering Seminar – Spring Speakers: Deblina Sarkar, Ph.D. @
Feb 2 @ 4:00 PM – 5:00 PM

The Spring 2022 biweekly seminar speakers of CMU Neural Engineering Seminar Series. 

Where: Virtual Seminar Zoom Link:

When: Wednesdays 4:00-5:00PM ET


* Jan 19, 2022 

o Brain-computer interfaces for basic science 

Byron Yu, Ph.D., Professor at CMU

* Feb 2, 2022 

o Of computers, brain and neurological diseases

Deblina Sarkar, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at MIT

* Feb 16, 2022 

o Algorithms for learning: synaptic plasticity during sensory learning in mouse neocortex

Alison Barth, Ph.D., Professor at CMU

* March 2, 2022 

o Imaging the brain for neuroscience and artificial intelligence

Zhongming Liu, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Michigan

* March 16, 2022 

o Clinical translation of optical imaging methods for tissue perfusion monitoring

Jana Kainerstorfer, Ph.D., Associate Professor at CMU

* March 30, 2022 

o Nodes and edges… Can we connect the dots in epilepsy?

Kate Davis, M.D., Associate Professor at U Penn

* April 13, 2022 

o Cortical-Subcortical Interactions in the Epileptic Brain

Jorge Gonzalez-Martinez, M.D., Professor at UPMC

* April 27, 2022 

o Going from brain machine interface to machine to brain interface

Nitish Thakor, Ph.D., Professor at Johns Hopkins University