The Human Auditory Neuroscience Group (HANG) studies how the human brain makes sense of the world from a mixture of sounds. This process includes 1) grouping multiple frequency components to form auditory "objects," 2) selecting a target object of interest, and 3) focusing attention on it. In the field of hearing science, we call this process "auditory scene analysis." We investigate neural processes underlying auditory scene analysis in normal functioning ears and brains. We also study how those neural processes degrade in listeners with hearing loss, and what hearing remediations and rehabilitations can treat the degraded auditory scene analysis.
Clinically, HANG's research goal translates into the following missions: 1) Characterizing structures and functions of the neural pathways for speech communications in adverse, real-world listening conditions, 2) Finding neural markers of hearing difficulties in adverse listening conditions, and 3) Developing evidence-based auditory training protocols as a treatment option for hearing dysfunctions.
To achieve those missions, HANG employs an innovative and rigorous methodology that combines state-of-the-art neuroimaging techniques with psychophysics of auditory cognitive functions in human listeners. HANG research has been graciously funded by grants including: Department of Defense Focused Research Award ("Identifying the Sources of Degraded Speech-in-Noise Understanding and Individualized Therapeutic Options," PI: Choi), American Otological Society Research Grant ("Post-implantation rehabilitation for cochlear implant recipients," PI: Choi), Hearing Health Foundation Emerging Research Grant ("Neural correlates of selective listening deficits in multi-talker environment," PI: Choi), and National Institute of Deafness and other Communication Disorders Program Grant (P50, "Iowa Cochlear Implant Clinical Research Center," PI: Gantz).