UCL Ear Institute


Chait Lab


We research how listeners use sounds in order to learn about, and interact with their surroundings. Our work is based on behavioral methods (psychophysics), eye tracking and functional brain imaging (MEG, EEG and fMRI). We are based at the Ear Institute. MEG and fMRI scanning is conducted at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging. We are also affiliated with the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

By studying how brain responses unfold in time, we explore how representation that are useful for behaviour arise from sensory input and dissociate automatic ,stimulus-driven, processes from those that are affected by the perceptual state, task and goals of the listener. Examples of the questions we address in our experiments are: How do listeners detect the appearance or disappearance of new auditory objects (sound sources) in the environment? What makes certain events ‘pop-out’ and grab listeners’ attention even when it is focused elsewhere while the detection of other events requires directed listening? How are listeners able to focus attention on one sound in a mixture? Are listeners able to selectively ignore a moment in time? How does visual input affect how listeners process auditory information? How do we detect patterns in rapidly unfolding sound sequences?


Research in the lab is funded by the following grants:

  • BBSRC project grant BB/P003745/1 (MC Principal investigator). £611,881.  2017-2020.
  • UCL-NTT (Japan) Research collaboration 2016-2019.
  • Action on Hearing Loss PhD studentship award (MC Principal investigator). 2015-2018.
  • European Commission Horizon2020 award. (MC co-PI), €4 million. 2015-2019.
  • Brain trust PhD studentship award (to Rosy Southwell) 2014-2018.

Previous funding:

  • Royal Society International Exchange Award IE140319 (MC Principal investigator) 2014-2016.
  • BBSRC International partnering award BB/L026864/1 (MC Principal investigator) 2014-2016.
  • BBSRC project grant BB/K003399/1 (MC Principal investigator). £653,284. 2013-2016.
  • UCL-NTT Research collaboration 2012-2015.
  • Wellcome Trust project grant 093292/Z/10/Z (MC Principal investigator)  £137,436 (+400 hours of MEG/fMRI scanning at the Wellcome Trust Center for Neuroimaging, UCL), 2011-2014.
  • BBSRC project grant BB/H006958/1 (MC co-investigator together with J. Linden and D. McAlpine).  £506,000.  2010-2013.
  • Deafness Research UK Research Fellowship (to MC) 2009-2012.
  • EU Marie Curie Individual Fellowship (to MC) 2007-2009.