Carnegie Mellon University

Lori Holt

Lori Holt

Professor of Psychology and the Neuroscience Institute and Co-Director, CNBC

Areas of Expertise

Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Computational, Developmental, Learning Science, Perception


A spoken syllable may persist in the world for a mere tenth of a second. Yet, as adult listeners, we are able to gather a great deal of information from these fleeting acoustic signals. We may apprehend the physical location of the speaker, the speaker's gender, regional dialect, age, emotional state, and identity, as well as the linguistic message. The ease of everyday conversation belies the complexity involved.

Research in Holt's lab focuses on the cognitive processes that underlie this feat, using speech processing as a platform for investigating learning, plasticity, categorization, cross-modal processing, object recognition, memory, attention and development. Among current projects, the lab is investigating learning that occurs in acquiring the sounds of a second language and how representations of the native language interact with this learning; how listeners' "tune" auditory perception to the statistical regularities of the sound environment; how auditory attention is grabbed by regularity; and how higher-level knowledge may influence early auditory object recognition and speech categorization. Laboratory members and collaborators tackle these questions using adult and child perception and learning tasks including videogames, EEG, fMRI and human intracranial EEG. Here, you can find out more about ongoing projects.

Lori L. Holt is a Professor of Psychology and the Neuroscience Institute at Carnegie Mellon University and is co-Director of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition, a joint research and training enterprise with University of Pittsburgh. She has been a member of the Department of Psychology and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University since earning her Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1999. Dr. Holt is the recipient of a 21st Century Scientist Award for Mind, Brain and Behavior from the James S. McDonnell Foundation and her research has been recognized by awards from her peers at the Acoustical Society of America, the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association and the National Organization for Hearing Research. In 2007, the Association for Psychological Science named her a Rising Star in Psychology. In 2013, Dr. Holt was awarded the Troland Research Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In 2022, she was named a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America. Her research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Binational Science Foundation, the Department of Defense, the Swedish Tercentenary Foundation, the James S. McDonnell Foundation, and other foundations.

Dr. Holt teaches undergraduate courses in Research Methods, the Biological Foundations of Behavior and Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience. She is co-Director of the Predoctoral Training Program in Behavioral Brain Research (T32GM081760, with co-Director Dr. Julie Fiez, University of Pittsburgh), an NIH-supported graduate training program to train the next generation of behavioral researchers to exploit biomedical techniques in their research.


  • B.S. Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison

  • Ph.D. Cognitive Psychology, University of Wisconsin-Madison


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Complete List of Publications

Current Course Offerings

  • Biological Foundations of Behavior