Carnegie Mellon University

LiMN @ CMU Laboratory

Carnegie Mellon Neuroscience Institute

Sensation & Perception

What sensory features enhance or inhibit perception in healthy human adults?

At all times, our sensory systems are bombarded with information from every angle and in multiple forms. The uptake and processing of this information is informed by our ability to create sensory objects, by which the brain groups stimuli with similar features as likely occurring from the same source. For example, when a series of sounds come from the same spatial location, have similar frequencies, and follow a repeating pattern, we're likely to perceive these wavelengths as being from the same source, or a singular auditory object. At LiMN, we study the salience of sensory objects and the impact of changing certain features on the perceptibility of the target. 

Relevant Publications

  1.  Viswanathan V, BG Shinn-Cunningham, and MG Heinz (2021). “Temporal fine structure influences voicing confusions for consonant identification in multi-talker babble,” of the Acoustical Society of America, 150, 2664-2676, doi: 10.1121/10.0006527 (bioRxiv doi: 10.1101/2021.05.11.443678).

How do our brains respond to ambient sensory information? 

In complex sensory mixtures, our brains are able to process and prioritize information even without our express attention. Superfluous stimuli are down-regulated in representations of neural activity, while unexpected or surprising distractions can recruit additional networks and direct attention to the source. Using noninvasive imaging techniques and behavioral tasks, LiMN studies the brain's response to changes in target stimuli to determine if there are perceptible differences across subtle manipulations.

Relevant Publications

  1.  Bulger E, BG Shinn-Cunningham, and AL Noyce (2020). “Distractor probabilities modulate flanker task performance,” Attention, Perception, and Psychophysics, doi: 10.3758/s13414-020-02151-7
  2. Shinn-Cunningham B (2019). “Brain mechanisms of auditory scene analysis,” in The Cognitive Neurosciences VI, Gazzaniga, Mangun, and Poeppel (eds.), MIT Press, 159-166.