Bizley lab: Visual cues amplify sound
13 February 2018
A new study led by the EI's Dr Jennifer Bizley finds that looking at someones lips in noisy environments can help with auditory perception.
The findings published in Neuron could be relevant to users of cochlear implants who struggle to hear in noisy environments such as restaurants or pubs.
The Bizley lab found that auditory and visual information is integrated at much earlier, basic level than previously thought. When information from the eyes and ears is temporally coherent, the auditory cortex – the part of the brain responsible for interpreting what we hear – boosts the relevant sounds that tie in with what we're looking at.
“While the auditory cortex is focused on processing sounds, roughly a quarter of its neurons respond to light – we helped discover that a decade ago, and we've been trying to figure out why that's the case ever since,” said the study's lead author, Dr Jennifer Bizley (UCL Ear Institute).
The study was led by Dr Bizley and PhD student Huriye Atilgan (UCL Ear Institute) alongside researchers from UCL, the University of Rochester and the University of Washington, and was funded by Wellcome, the Royal Society, the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, Action on Hearing Loss, the National Institutes of Health and the Hearing Health Foundation.