The central question driving my research is: how does our brain enable us to successfully communicate with each other? One crucial aspect of this ability is how the listener’s brain extracts and represents relevant social information from the communicated message. I started answering this question in my PhD research, by studying the neuronal representation of voices, and how it is influenced by simultaneously presented faces, in primates. However, the neuronal mechanisms underlying the recognition and use of auditory social cues by mammals are still not understood.
Like humans, mice are social animals who exchange complex vocal sounds during their interactions with each other. In my postdoctoral research, supported by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust, I now investigate where and how auditory communication signals are encoded in the brain of mice during natural social interactions. To address these questions, I combine ethologically relevant behavioural assays, neuronal ensemble recordings in the auditory cortex of freely-moving animals, and molecular-genetic manipulations of neuronal circuits. This multimodal approach will help reveal the neuronal mechanisms underlying auditory social interactions, and contribute to advancing our understanding of auditory social communication in health and disease.
I am a biomedical engineer by training, and obtained a BSc and MSc in Life Sciences and Technology from EPFL (Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne), Switzerland. I subsequently moved to the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tuebingen, Germany, to work towards my PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) in Neuroscience, with the financial support of the Max Planck Society and the Swiss National Science Foundation. I am now a Sir Henry Wellcome Postdoctoral Fellow at the department of Experimental Psychology at UCL.