Carnegie Mellon University

Laurie Heller

Laurie Heller

Professor of Psychology (Teaching)

Areas of Expertise

Cognitive Neuroscience, Cognitive Science, Perception


My research examines the human ability to use sound to understand what events are happening in the environment. My perceptual experiments address whether there are acoustic cues that reveal attributes of sound events, and how our knowledge of these cue-attribute relationships influences our discrimination of sounds, labeling of sounds, and even gestures. I have also examined how this knowledge influences which brain regions are recruited during the perception of sound events and whether audition plays a significant role in the perception of multi-modal events. Current questions include how listeners can learn to extract the information that echoes contain about the surrounding environment. This basic research relates psychological performance to acoustic properties and high-level auditory information. At an application level, the results of this research have the potential to enhance hearing aids, auditory displays, and navigation aids for the visually impaired.


Google Scholar Profile

Lemaitre, G. , Pyles, J.A., Halpern, Andrea R., Navolio, N., Lehet, M. and Heller, L.M. (2018). Who’s that Knocking at My Door? Neural Bases of Sound Source Identification. Cerebral Cortex doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhw397 Link

Navolio, N., Lemaitre, G., Forget, A., and Heller, L.M. (2016). The Egocentric Nature of Action-Sound Associations. Front. Psychol., 23 February 2016

Lemaitre G., Heller L.M., Navolio N., and Zúñiga-Peñaranda N. (2015). Priming Gestures with Sounds. PLoS ONE 10(11): e0141791. doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0141791

Lemaitre, G. and Heller, L.M. (2013). Evidence for a basic level in a taxonomy of everyday action sounds. Experimental Brain Research, Vol. 226, No. 2, pp. 253-264. 

Lemaitre, G. and Heller, L.M. (2012). Auditory perception of material is fragile while action is strikingly robust. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 131(2). 

Heller, L.M., and Richards, V.M. (2010). Binaural interference in lateralization thresholds for interaural time and level differences. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 128, 310-320. 

Heller, L.M., and Skerritt, B. (2010). Acoustic analysis of perceptual sound categories. Acoustical Society of America, Baltimore MD, April 2010. 

Heller, L.M., and Skerritt, B. (2009). Action as an organizing principle of auditory cognition. APCAM, November 2009. 

Marshall, L.M., Lapsley Miller, J.A., Heller, L.M., Wolgemuth, K.S., Hughes, L.M., Smith, S.D., Kopke, R.D. (2009). Detection incipient inner-ear damage from impulse noise with otoacoustic emissions. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 125(2), 995-1013. 

Neuhoff, J.G. & Heller, L.M. (2005). One small step: Using sound source and event characteristics in auditory graphs. Proceedings of the International Conference on Auditory Display. 

Ecker, A.J. & Heller, L.M. (2005). Auditory-visual interactions in the perception of a ball's path. Perception 34, 59-75. 

Heller, L.M. and Wolf, L. (2002). When sound effects are better than the real thing. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 111, p. 2339, 1pPP10. LINK