Professor of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery
Dr. Bertrand Delgutte’s research focuses on how the auditory system processes biologically significant sounds, such as speech, with the goal of understanding the neural basis of auditory perception. He is also interested in applying this knowledge to improve hearing aids and cochlear implants.
His research is motivated by the observation that hearing impaired listeners, deaf users of cochlear implants, and automatic speech recognition systems all have trouble understanding speech in noisy and reverberant settings, even if they do well in quiet. Understanding the neural mechanisms underlying the good performance of normal hearing listeners in these everyday challenging conditions may suggest improvements in both assistive devices and artificial systems.
Specific topics of research include the neural coding of musical pitch and neural mechanisms for listening in everyday reverberant environments. Dr. Delgutte is also investigating neural coding and brain plasticity in animal models of cochlear implants.
A key question is whether the degradations in the neural coding of sound observed with cochlear implants are caused by the abnormal patterns of neural activity produced by electric stimulation of the cochlea or by maladaptive plastic changes in brain circuits resulting from deafness and cochlear implantation itself. This question is addressed by recording neural activity produced by electric and acoustic stimulation in animal models with controlled amount and timing of residual hearing. This research will inform and motivate the design of new processing strategies and rehabilitation procedures for cochlear implants that work better in everyday noisy environments, and that are adapted to the history of auditory experience of individual deaf patients.
Eaton Peabody Lab
243 Charles St
Boston, MA 02114