Auditory Looming Perception
My work in auditory motion perception shows that listeners perceive looming sounds as closer than they actually are. My continuing work employs perceptual tasks, physiological measures, and comparative techniques and suggests that the bias for looming sounds and systematic underestimation of arrival time may be an evolved behavioral characteristic. Other work has examined sex differences in the cortical activation of parents in response to infant vocalizations . Both lines of work underscore the role of evolution in shaping behavioral responses. Collaborative work with Asif Ghazanfar at Princeton examines the perception and multisensory integration of looming objects in Rhesus monkeys. Our findings support an evolutionary "error management theory " in the perception of both auditory and visual looming perception.
Applied Cognition, Human-Computer Interaction, and Auditory Display
Auditory display is the use of non-speech sound to present information. My work shows that perceptual distortions that occur when dimensions of sound undergo dynamic change. Dynamic changes in frequency, intensity, and spectral content are likely vehicles for auditory display. My continuing work shows that these distortions can be particularly important in the development of auditory display , auditory virtual environments and computer workstations.
Brain Imaging and Auditory Perception
A collaborative relationship with Erich Seifritz at the University of Bern in Switzerland has provided me with the opportunity to examine specific patterns of cortical activation in response to various types of acoustic signals. Our current line of investigation demonstrates a robust asymmetry in the activation of cortical areas in response to approaching versus receding sound sources.
Musical Expertise, Rhythm, and Language
I became interested in links between music and language after hearing a fascinating talk by Ani Patel at APCAM in 2008. I received an NSF grant to study these links in more detail.
Selective Attention to Pitch and Loudness
Historically, auditory pitch has been considered to be primarily a function of acoustic frequency, with only a small effect being due to absolute intensity. My work with Mike McBeath at Arizona State suggests that the dynamic interaction of pitch and loudness (i) occurs centrally in the auditory system; (ii) is an analytic rather than holistic process; (iii) has evolved to take advantage of naturally occurring covariation of frequency and intensity; and (iv) reflects a shortcoming of traditional static models of loudness perception in a dynamic natural setting.