I am fascinated by how the brain converts sound into meaning, and how this is critically dependent on a person’s current state and history. My research focus is in the area of auditory cognition – understanding how the brain makes sense of sound – from the perspective of cognitive neuroscience. Using psychophysics and neuroimaging (EEG, ECoG, fMRI) I study how the auditory system forms perceptual representations and the factors that contribute to their formation, including learning, memory, and attention, under normal conditions and also when they are disordered (e.g., hearing loss, cochlear implants, and tinnitus). The study of tinnitus – ringing in the ears – provides a unique opportunity to understand how we hear sound; by investigating the presence of a phantom auditory percept we can gain insight into how sound is coded in the brain. In addition to investigating the brain bases of sound processing I place a strong emphasis on translating basic scientific findings into benefit for patients. In the case of tinnitus, neuroscience will provide the knowledge that leads to an effective treatment for a condition that affects 10-15% of the adult population.
I am an assistant research scientist in the Department of Neurosurgery at The University of Iowa, in the Human Brain Research Laboratory of Matt Howard, MD, where we conduct research using electrocorticography (ECoG). I work closely with Tim Griffiths, MD Newcastle University. I previously worked as a research fellow at the National Biomedical Research Unit in Hearing, Nottingham, UK with Deb Hall. I received my PhD in Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour in 2009 from McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, where I worked with Larry Roberts and Laurel Trainor.