Neural dynamics of audio-motor coupling during perception of speech and melody

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This project aims at understanding the neural dynamics -and associated temporal constraints- of different cognitive processes, to better understand how they combine during natural behavior.


Cognitive processes need time to unfold. During perceptual decision-making tasks, each of the different processing stages leading to a decision impose a temporal delay, which is overall reflected by reaction times. Since, the 80’s, such temporal limitations are known, with e.g. phenomena such as the psychological refractory period or the attentional blink reflecting the limitation of a central serial processing bottleneck (Marois and Ivanoff, 2005) – or the fact that above ~15 images per second we perceive discrete visual stimuli as continuous.
Recently, the natural dynamics of different cognitive processes has started to be established, with visual perception (VanRullen, Tics 2016), spatial attention (Fiebelkorn and Kastner, Tics 2019) and central inferential (Wyart et al., Neuron 2012) processes having each their own temporal constraints (from few tens to few hundreds of milliseconds). In audition speech and music naturally unfold at different rates, 5 vs. 2 Hz, and these two rates were recently shown to reflect internal temporal constraints (Assaneo et al., Sci. Adv. 2019; Zalta et al., Nat. Commun. 2020).
During this internship, the candidate will develop a paradigm that allows direct comparison of the temporal constraints involved in listening to speech and music. The objective will then be to acquire magnetoencephalography (MEG) recordings in healthy humans, and to study if – and how – the dynamic coupling between different regions – especially auditory and motor- is at the origin of the constraints observed behaviorally. The overall goal of this project is to understand the neural dynamics -and associated temporal constraints- of different cognitive processes, in order to better understand how they combine during natural behavior.

Desired profile

Interest in cognitive neurosciences.
Motivation for programming (Matlab or Python).

Host institution

Our team, DCP, is specialized in human auditory neurosciences. Our research concerns the neural bases of speech and music processing and the interaction between motor and auditory systems during these processes. Our work is carried out with a wide range of tools (MEG, sEEG, EEG, eye-tracking, TMS) allowing the collection and analysis of behavioral and neural data.
Our team is part of the Institute of Systems Neuroscience, a research laboratory located on the campus of La Timone in Marseille, which brings together several disciplines (functional neuroanatomy, electrophysiology, imaging, theoretical neuroscience, mathematics).
Finally, our team is integrated in a larger scientific environment, being associated to a network of laboratories involved in the study of the neural bases of language and communication (

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