Brain networks enabling speech perception in everyday settings

Barbara Shinn-Cunningham


While cocktail parties aren't as common as they once were, we all can recall the feeling. You are at a loud party, in a boring conversation. Though you nod politely at all the right moments, your brain is busy listening to the juicy gossip in the interchange behind you. How is it that your brain enables this feat of volitionally directing attention, determining what sound energy is from what sound source, letting through sounds that seem important while filtering out the rest? How is it that unexpected sounds, like the sudden crash of a shattering window, interrupt volitional attention? This talk will explain what we know about control of both spatial and non-spatial processing of sound, based on neuroimaging and behavioral studies, and discuss ways this knowledge can be utilized in developing new assistive listening devices.

Bio: Barbara Shinn-Cunningham is an electrical engineer turned neuroscientist who uses behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational methods to understand auditory processing and perception. Her interests span from sensory coding in the cochlea to influences of brain networks on auditory processing in cortex (and everything in between). She is the Cowan Professor of Auditory Neuroscience in and Inaugural Director of the Neuroscience Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, a position she took up after over two decades on the faculty of Boston University. In her copious spare time, she competes in saber fencing and plays the oboe/English horn. She received the 2019 Helmholtz-Rayleigh Interdisciplinary Silver Medal and the 2013 Mentorship Award, both from the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). She is a Fellow of the ASA and of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineers, a lifetime National Associate of the National Research Council, and a recipient of fellowships from the Alfred P Sloan Foundation, the Whitaker Foundation, and the Vannevar Bush Fellows program.


Cite as: Shinn-Cunningham, B. (2020) Brain networks enabling speech perception in everyday settings. Proc. Interspeech 2020.


@inproceedings{Shinn-Cunningham2020,
  author={Barbara Shinn-Cunningham},
  title={{Brain networks enabling speech perception in everyday settings}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2020}
}