Phillip E. Gander

The University of Iowa

About Me

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, misophonia, 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 associate 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 intracranial recordings. I also work in the Department of Otolaryngology investigating the neural mechanisms of speech-in-noise understanding in cochlear implantees using PET and EEG. These research programs are in collaboration 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.

CV (pdf)

Current work

  • Gander PE, Berger JI, Kumar S, Kovach CK, Oya H, Kawasaki H, Howard III MA, Griffiths TD (in prep) Direct human electrical recordings demonstrating fundamental bases for auditory figure-ground analysis.
  • Gander PE, Ponto LL, Choi I, McMurray B, Gantz BJ, Griffiths TD (in prep) O-15 water PET study of speech in noise processing in hybrid cochlear implant patients.
  • Gander PE, Choi I, McMurray B, Griffiths TD (in prep) Behavioural evidence for a relationship between auditory object grouping and speech-in-noise processing.



    Selected Presentations

  • Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 2018 (pdf)
  • Auditory Cortex, 2017 (pdf)
  • Association for Research in Otolaryngology, 2015 (pdf)
  • Society for Neuroscience, 2014 (pdf 1) (pdf 2)
  • Contact Me

    email: first hyphen last at

    Phillip E. Gander, PhD
    Dept of Neurosurgery
    1800 JPP
    The University of Iowa
    Iowa City, IA

    Links: Human Brain Research Laboratory; Auditory Cognition Group