Joel I. Berger

The University of Iowa

About Me

My primary research area is auditory neuroscience. I have a fascination with understanding how sound is represented within the brain, both in the presence of external stimuli and in the absence of an objective stimulus, as is the case with subjective tinnitus. As a musician, I have experienced first-hand the power that auditory stimuli can have on the brain. I am interested in furthering our understanding of basic neuroscience and translating this into benefits for patients, utilising the latest tools in intracranial ECoG, behavioural neuroscience, PET and source space EEG. My years of experience in Matlab analysis help me greatly in this endeavour. Much of my recent time has additionally been focussed on developing novel approaches to single and multi-unit recordings in humans.

I am currently an associate research scientist in the Department of Neurosurgery at The University of Iowa, in the Human Brain Research Laboratory of Matt Howard, MD. I obtained my BSc from the University of Lincoln (UK) in 2008, where I graduated with first class honours. My dissertation assessed the association between obsessive-compulsiveness and cognitive dissonance. Subsequently, I received my PhD from the University of Nottingham in 2014, under the supervision of Prof. Alan Palmer and Dr Mark Wallace. My thesis was on the behavioural and neural correlates of tinnitus. My first postdoctoral position was at the MRC Institute of Hearing Research, also under the supervision of Prof. Alan Palmer. I then moved to Iowa for a postdoctoral appointment, to pursue further direct physiological and neuroimaging measurements of auditory perception, before taking up a research scientist position.

CV (pdf)

Recent work

  • Berger JI , Gander PE, Kim S, Schwalje A, Woo J, Na Y, Holmes A, Hong J, Dunn C, Hansen M, Gantz B, McMurray B, Griffiths TD, Choi I (2023, in press) Neural correlates of individual differences in speech-in-noise performance in a large cohort of cochlear implant users. Ear Hear.
  • Hindman BJ, Gold CJ, Ray E, Wendt LH, Ten Eyck P, Berger JI , Olinger CR, Banks MI, Sanders RD, Howard MA, Woodroffe RW (2023, in press) Surgeon-specific treatment selection bias and heterogeneous perioperative practices in an observational spine surgery study. A statistical tutorial with implications for analysis of observational studies of perioperative interventions. World Neurosurgery.
  • Johari K, Kelley R, Tjaden K, Patterson CG, Rohl AH, Berger JI , Corcos DM, Greenlee JDW (2023, in press) Human STN Neurons Differentially Encode Speech and Limb Movement. Front Human Neurosci.
  • Fawcett TJ, Longenecker RJ, Brunelle DL, Berger JI , Wallace MN, Galazyuk A, Rosen M, Salvi R, Walton JP (2023) Universal Automated Classification of the Acoustic Startle Reflex with Machine Learning. Hear. Res. 428: 108667.
  • Cole RC, Espinoza AI, Singh A, Berger JI , Cavanagh J, Greenlee JDW, Narayanan N (2023) Novelty-induced frontal-STN networks in Parkinson's disease. Cereb Cortex 33(2), 469-485.
  • Berger JI , Johari K, Kovach CK, Greenlee JDW (2022) Speech artifact is also present in spike data. NeuroImage 263: 119642.
  • Gold C, Ray E, Christianson D, Park B, Kournoutas IA, Kahn TA, Perez EA, Berger JI , Sander K, Igram CA, Pugely A, Olinger CR, Carnahan R, Chen P, Mueller R, Hitchon P, Howard MA, Banks M, Sanders R, Woodroffe RW (2022) Risk Factors for Delirium in Elderly Lumbar Spinal Fusion Patients. Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery S0303-8467(22)00199-8.
  • Geller J, Holmes A, Schwalje A, Berger JI , Gander PE, Choi I, McMurray B (2021) Validating the Iowa Test of Consonant Perception. J Acoust Soc Am 150(3): 2131.
  • Wallace MN, Sumner CJ, Berger JI , McNaughton PA, Palmer AR (2021) Salicylate changes the spontaneous firing rate of guinea pig auditory nerve fibres. Neurosci Lett 747, 135705.
  • Kumar S*, Gander PE*, Berger JI *, Billig AJ, Nourski KV, Oya H, Kawasaki H, Howard MA, Griffiths TD (2021) Oscillatory correlates of auditory working memory examined with human electrocorticography. Neuropsychologia 150, 107691.



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  • Contact Me

    email: first hyphen last at

    Joel I. Berger, PhD
    Dept of Neurosurgery
    1800 JPP
    The University of Iowa
    Iowa City, IA

    Links: Human Brain Research Laboratory; Auditory Cognition Group