Monday, December 16, 2013

Post-Doctoral Fellowships in Translational Neuroscience and Neurorehabilitation

Three year NIH-funded fellowships are available at the Moss Rehabilitation Research Institute (MRRI), in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn), for research training in cognitive and motor neuroscience and neurorehabilitation. This program is designed specifically to prepare young investigators to adapt emerging theoretical advances to the development of rehabilitation treatments. To that end, we invite applications from (1) individuals with relevant basic science training who wish to learn to apply basic science principles to the study and treatment of neurological deficits and (2) individuals with relevant clinical training who wish to learn cutting-edge neuroscience and neurorehabilitation research methods. Fellows will train with a primary mentor at either MRRI or Penn and will interact with peers and mentors with diverse clinical and experimental backgrounds. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until all of the available positions are filled.

Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Applicants must be citizens or non-citizen nationals of the United States or have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence. Both MRRI and Penn are Equal Opportunity Employers and welcome and encourages all qualified candidates to apply including, but not limited to, minorities and individuals with disabilities. A complete list of available mentors and instructions for application are available at

Applications should be submitted to Kevin Whelihan, Research Administrator ( and must include:
- current CV
- cover letter describing research interests and career goals. Given the translational focus of the training program, applicants should indicate a preferred primary mentor and, if possible, one or more secondary mentors who appear to offer the best fit in balancing basic and applied aspects of the candidate’s interests.

- 2-3 letters of reference

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

University of Queensland, School of Psychology -- Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology

University of Queensland, School of Psychology
Lecturer/Senior Lecturer in Experimental Psychology

The appointment will be made on a full-time, continuing basis at Academic level B or C (depending on experience and qualifications).

The remuneration package of an Academic Level B appointment will be in the range of $81,857 - $97,205 p.a., plus employer superannuation contributions of up to 17% (total package will be in the range of $95,774 - $113,731 p.a.).

The remuneration package of an Academic Level C appointment will be in the range of $100,275 - $115,623 p.a., plus employer superannuation contributions of up to 17% (total package will be in the range of $117,322 - $135,279 p.a.).

Duties and Responsibilities
The School of Psychology is currently seeking a full-time lecturer in the field of Experimental Psychology.  The successful applicant will carry out an independent program of research, contribute to undergraduate teaching in the areas of cognition and learning, engage in Honours and higher degree research supervision. Course coordination and administrative service within the School will also be required.

Applicants with experience in all areas of experimental psychology including psycholinguistics and human learning and memory are encouraged to apply.

The ideal candidate has some years of postdoctoral experience and a record of high-quality publications commensurate with the stage of their career; success in obtaining research funding is a plus. Duties beyond research and teaching include supervising and training undergraduate and graduate students and a share of administrative duties.

Key Requirements
Applicants will hold, or be demonstrably close to completing, a PhD in an area relevant to Experimental Psychology, have a competitive research track record, experience and ability in teaching undergraduate and postgraduate programs in experimental psychology, and capacity to supervise honours and postgraduate students.

Further Details
Further Particulars including a job description and person specification can be accessed at

Application closing date

2 Feb 2014 11:55pm E. Australia Standard Time

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Adaptive control during speech recognition in noise

Guest Post from Kenny Vaden:

During the holiday season, many of us will experience difficulty having conversations in noisy settings (e.g., family gatherings, restaurants, and airports). Word recognition errors and reduced signal to noise ratios (SNR) during effortful listening have been shown to elicit elevated activity in frontal regions that include the bilateral dorsal cingulate, anterior insulae, and frontal operculum (Wild et al., 2012). In an article entitled, The Cingulo-Opercular Network Provides Word-Recognition Benefit (Vaden et al., 2013), we demonstrate that this cingulo-opercular network supports speech recognition in noise on a trial-by-trial basis. This pattern of cingulo-opercular activity is thought to reflect a domain general network, which responds to task difficulty and errors for a variety of perceptual and cognitive tasks (Dosenbach et al., 2006).

Cingulo-opercular network activity is thought to reflect adaptive control functions that guide behavior. Consistent with this  premise, physiological evidence for adaptive control is found in activity that precedes behavior. Importantly, elevated cingulo-opercular activity has been associated with behavioral adjustments on the next trial for visuo-spatial tasks (Carter et al., 2000; Kerns et al., 2004; Weissman, Roberts, Visscher, & Woldorff, 2006). We asked whether similar results would be observed for word recognition in noise. In each trial of our fMRI experiment, participants were instructed to repeat a CVC word that was presented in a background of multitalker babble (energetic masking with ten voices; blocks consisted of 4-6 trials with +3 or +10 dB SNR). Word recognition was more likely for trials that immediately followed high cingulo-opercular activity compared to low activity. This effect was not specific to the magnitude of dorsal cingulate activity, as a word was more likely to be recognized when all of the cingulo-opercular regions exhibited elevated activity (Vaden et al., 2013).

One implication of our findings is that limited engagement of the cingulo-opercular network could account for word recognition difficulties, especially in challenging listening conditions. For example, Brownsett and colleagues (2013) demonstrated that cingulo-opercular activity across noisy speech recognition conditions was strongly related to individual differences in post-stroke picture naming abilities for patients with aphasia. We agree with the authors’ conclusion that there is potential value in developing methods that would enhance the function of a domain general cingulo-opercular network as part of a multi-pronged approach to addressing communication impairments. More broadly, these types of adaptive control results should direct our attention to the role of domain general systems in language studies.

Brownsett, S. L. E., Warren, J. E., Geranmayeh, F., Woodhead, Z., Leech, R., & Wise, R. J. S. (2013). Cognitive control and its impact on recovery from aphasic stroke. Brain. doi:10.1093/brain/awt289
Carter, C. S., Macdonald, A. M., Botvinick, M., Ross, L. L., Stenger, V. A., Noll, D., & Cohen, J. D. (2000). Parsing executive processes: strategic vs. evaluative functions of the anterior cingulate cortex. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA, 97(4), 1944–8.
Dosenbach, N. U. F., Visscher, K. M., Palmer, E. D., Miezin, F. M., Wenger, K. K., Kang, H. C., … Petersen, S. E. (2006). A core system for the implementation of task sets. Neuron, 50(5), 799–812.
Kerns, J. G., Cohen, J. D., MacDonald, A. W., Cho, R. Y., Stenger, V. A., & Carter, C. S. (2004). Anterior cingulate conflict monitoring and adjustments in control. Science, 303, 1023–1026.
Vaden, K., Kuchinsky, S., Cute, S., Ahlstrom, J., Dubno, J., & Eckert, M. (2013). The Cingulo-Opercular Network Provides Word-Recognition Benefit. J Neurosci, 33(48), 18979–18986.
Weissman, D. H., Roberts, K. C., Visscher, K. M., & Woldorff, M. G. (2006). The neural bases of momentary lapses in attention. Nat Neuro, 9(7), 971–978.
Wild, C. J., Yusuf, A., Wilson, D. E., Peelle, J. E., Davis, M. H., & Johnsrude, I. S. (2012). Effortful listening: the processing of degraded speech depends critically on attention. J Neurosci, 32(40), 14010–14021.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Audiovisual speech integration does not rely on the motor system

It has been claimed that audiovisual (AV) speech integration, such as in the McGurk-MacDonald effect, is driven by the motor speech system.  For example, Skipper et al. (2007) write,
AV speech elicits in the listener a motor plan for the production of the phoneme that the speaker might have been attempting to produce, and that feedback in the form of efference copy from the motor system ultimately influences the phonetic interpretation. 
I mentioned in a previous post that this claim is dubious based on the observation that infants, who can't generate speech, nonetheless exhibit McGurk-MacDonald effects.  William Matchin in my lab recently followed up on this issue in two experiments, reported in JoCN.

Experiment 1 was a behavioral study in which participants viewed AV mismatched stimuli that give rise to fused McGurk perceptions. They view these stimuli either under typical conditions or during articulatory suppression (silent syllable articulation).  The idea is that if the motor system is important in driving McGurk effects, then distracting the motor speech system with an articulatory task should affect the perception of AV mismatched stimuli, e.g., by reducing the strength of the McGurk effect.

Results: Articulatory suppression had no impact on the McGurk effect. 

Experiment 2 was an fMRI study that explored whether motor speech areas, such as Broca's area exhibited activation profiles characteristic of cross-sensory integration, namely that the response to the AV stimulus is greater than the response to the auditory or visual stimuli alone.

Results: Motor speech areas do not exhibit a response pattern characteristic of AV integration.  Instead, the STS exhibited such a profile (as previous work had shown).

Conclusion: The motor system is not the source of AV integration effects.  All signs currently point to the STS.  If you're interested in the evidence regarding the role of the STS, Michael Beauchamp's work is a good place to start.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Post-doctoral position - MUSC Hearing Research Program, Charleston, S.C. USA

The MUSC Hearing Research Program, in Charleston, S.C., is accepting applications for a Post-doctoral Scholar on age-related changes in hearing and speech recognition. This is a training opportunity to work with an interdisciplinary group of auditory scientists who use neuroimaging, electrophysiology, and psychoacoustic methods. The successful applicant will contribute to a neuroimaging study on speech recognition in older adults. There are also opportunities to interact with members of the MUSC Center for Biomedical Imaging that oversees the research-dedicated 3T Siemens Trio MRI scanner facility, as well as with members of our large neuroscience community. We seek applicants with expertise in audition, language, or attention. The successful candidate will have skills in at least one of the following areas: neuroimaging, programming, and statistics.

Please email Dr. Mark Eckert for additional information (eckert at Applicants should include a CV and a statement of interests. MUSC is located on the coastline, in the heart of historic Charleston.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Post-doctoral position, Department of Applied Neurocognitive Psychology at Oldenburg University, Germany

The Department of Applied Neurocognitive Psychology at Oldenburg University, Germany, offers a
Post-doctoral position (salary level E13 TVL, 3 years)
with a focus on signal processing / statistical learning for analysis of speech coding in the human brain. 
The position is linked to the collaborative research center "The Active Auditory System" SFB-TR 31. The research center aims to characterize and model mechanism of auditory object formation and scene analysis by combining psychophysical, neurophysiological, and quantitative modelling. It complements the Excellence Cluster "Hearing 4 All" which was recently awarded to the University of Oldenburg. The combined effort of these centers will establish a strong link between neurophysiological models of auditory object representation and subjective perception.
The post-doctoral position is situated in a project that applies statistical learning methods to human intracranial recordings (ECoG) and fMRI to derive and test quantitative statistical models of speech coding in the human brain. The experiments are performed in a highly interdisciplinary lab environment and in close collaboration with the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University.
The quantitative nature of the research project will require highly motivated candidates with strong quantitative and experimental skills. Successful candidates will perform cutting edge research and should have a background in one or more of the following fields: signal processing, statistical learning, brain-machine-interfacing, non-invasive or invasive human neurophysiology of the auditory system. Applicants must have an academic university degree (Master or equivalent) and a PhD (or equivalent).
Successful candidates will work in an interdisciplinary network with opportunities for international exchange.
The post-doctoral position is initially limited to three years, with an option for extension, and can be split.
Applications should include your CV, a list of most recent publications, two recommendation letters, and a research statement (max. 3 pages). The University of Oldenburg is an equal opportunity employer. The University of Oldenburg is dedicated to increasing the percentage of women in science. Therefore, equally qualified female candidates will be given preference. Applicants with disabilities will be preferentially considered in case of equal qualification.
Please send inquiries and electronic applications per email (preferred) to Professor Dr. Jochem Rieger: Jochem.rieger(at)
or paper applications per regular mail to:
Margrit Jung
Dept. of Applied Neurocognitive Psychology
Institute of Psychology
Oldenburg University
26111 Oldenburg

Application deadline is December 16th, 2013.