Chait Lab


Chait lab team

Maria Chait

Head of Lab


I am a Professor of auditory cognitive neuroscience at the Ear Institute, UCL. I moved to UCL in 2007, as a Marie Curie research fellow, following a short post-doc at Ecole normale supérieure, Paris.

My PhD research (2006) was conducted at the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science program, university of Maryland College Park, USA under the supervision of Jonathan Simon and David Poeppel. My undergraduate background is in Computer Science, Economics, and East Asian Studies.

Among my UCL responsibilities is the co-direction of the Sensory Systems, Technologies and Therapies (SenSyT) PhD program  and the Dual Masters in Brain and Mind Sciences. I am also a member of the UCL Neuroscience domain steering group.

Alice Milne

Research Associate


I’m a post-doctoral researcher looking at auditory attention. I am interested in how we attend to sounds in noisy environments and how the patterns present within auditory sequences might modulate our attention. I am also keen to understand how different mechanisms and brain networks interact to allow us to extract complex statistical information from the fast temporal changes that occur as we analyse auditory scenes. 

I completed my undergraduate degree in Psychology at the University of Durham where I remained for a Master’s degree in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. I then moved to the Newcastle University to do a PhD with Prof. Chris Petkov, there I conducted comparative research using EEG, fMRI and eye-tracking to better understand how the brain processes sequential relationships in streams of auditory and visual stimuli. 

Roberta Bianco

Research Associate


I’m a post-doctoral researcher investigating how the brain detects statistical regularities within on-going auditory signasl and how this process is subject to attention or prior knowledge. My research combines behavioural, electrophysiological and neuroimaging methods in order to understand the neural mechanisms that underpin this function in humans. 

I hold BA in Medical Biotechnology from the University of Milan (Italy), a M.Sc. in Neurobiology from the University of Pavia (Italy), a Music Diploma in flute from the “Istituto Musicale Vittadini” of Pavia (Italy), and a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences at the University of Leipzig (Germany). Before starting the current position, I have held short postdoctoral fellowship at Concordia University of Montrèal (Canada).

Alex Billig

Research Associate (co-supervised with Tim Griffiths)


I am a postdoctoral research associate interested in how the human brain supports the perception and memory of sound. Much of my work has focused on the way that attention and experience influence our interpretation of ambiguous auditory scenes.

Following my undergraduate training in mathematics at Oxford I worked for several years in finance and as a musician. I took a masters in Music, Mind & Brain at Goldsmiths College then worked as a research assistant at the MRC Cognition & Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, with listeners whose hearing had been partially restored through a cochlear implant. This led to a PhD in auditory stream segregation with Bob Carlyon, using psychophysics and MEG. I then joined the lab of Ingrid Johnsrude at the Brain and Mind Institute at The University of Western Ontario, where I had the opportunity to study speech perception with some of the pioneers of functional neuroimaging. My position in the Chait lab at the UCL Ear Institute is supported by a Wellcome Trust grant to Tim Griffiths of Newcastle University.

Daniel Bates

Daniel Bates

Research Assistant + PhD Student

I am interested in how we are able to interact with (and build an understanding of) the world through our auditory and visual experiences.

My research utilises psychophysics and brain imaging to understand what a listener can attend to, how selective attention is affected by different sound contexts and what brain mechanisms may be involved in this process. This work is part of a European Commission funded project aiming to understand how listener’s attentional state can be ‘read-out’ in real time to steer a hearing aid. 

I have a BSc in Psychology from the University of Liverpool (2013) and MSc in Neuroscience, Language and Communication from UCL (2014).

Katharine Molloy

Kate Molloy

PhD Student; Co Supervised with Prof. Nilli Lavie

My research focuses on how well we perceive sounds when our attention is engaged in a visual task. Our hearing system is often regarded as an early warning system which reacts to unexpected sounds even when we are busy elsewhere. However, it has recently been shown that very demanding visual tasks can cause deficits in our auditory perception. I am investigating which auditory processes are susceptible to this interference, using psychophysics to determine when behaviour is affected, and MEG to measure brain responses.

I studied Maths at Cambridge for my undergrad degree, followed by an MSc in Experimental Psychology at Sussex. I then worked as a Research Assistant for the MRC Institute of Hearing Research for three years, before starting at UCL. I am jointly supervised by Nilli Lavie at the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience, and Maria Chait at the Ear Institute.

Sijia Zhao

Sijia Zhao

PhD Student

My research focuses on understanding how sensitivity to acoustic patterning arises in the auditory cortex and the degree to which regularity attracts auditory attention, by utilising functional brain imaging techniques (fMRI, EEG, MEG) and psychophysics. I am part-funded by a partnership contract with NTT, Japan

I have BSc Neuroscience and MSc Computer Science degrees, both from UCL.

I am broadly interested in the interdisciplinary areas of auditory neuroscience and artificial intelligence. [personal website]

Rosy Southwell

Rosy Southwell

PhD Student

I am interested in the sensitivity of the human brain to patterns and regularity in sounds, and the effect of attention in recognising these patterns. I use psychophysics, EEG and MEG. 

Before joining the Ear Institute, I completed short projects in two other UCL research groups: with Sven Bestmann on the pharmacology of signalling uncertainty, and with Dimitris Pinotsis on modelling neural dynamics in visual cortex.

I have a BA (2012) in Natural Sciences and an MSc (2013) in Systems Biology from Cambridge University. I have also worked as a Research Assistant in Dr. Bob Carlyon's group at the Cognition and Brain Sciences unit in Cambridge, developing psychophysics tasks for assessing auditory perception in cochlear implant users.

Mathilde Le Gal de Kerangal

PhD Student


My research focuses on evaluating hearing impaired listeners’ sensitivity to changes in multi-object acoustic scenes that model the complex acoustic environment encountered during every day listening (e.g a crowded street or a busy restaurant). My project involves EEG and behavioural experiments.

I did a Bachelor degree in Mechanical engineering (UPMC, Paris), following Musicology courses in parallel (La Sorbonne, Paris). I obtained a MSc degree in Acoustics and signal processing (IRCAM, Paris) before joining the Ear Institute.

I am funded by an Action on Hearing Loss PhD studentship.

Lucas Benjamin

Internship  Student 


After two years of prep-school in math and physics, I began an engineering education at CentraleSupélec (France) focused on signal processing and control theory. My background is applied physics and engineering.  I work in the ChaitLab as an intern during my gap year between first and second year of engineering MSc. My work consists of eye tracking recording during sound stimulation. 

Nga Wai (Michelle) Yum


MRes Student

I am an MRes student in Brain Sciences at UCL. 

My research project in the Chait Lab uses eye tracking (pupillometry) to investigates sound salience and distraction.

Before joining UCL, I obtained my BSc in psychology at Durham University (2017).

Sami Picken

MSc Student


I am interested in how the brain makes sense of, and predicts complex patterns in sound. I am also

interested in the evolutionary basis of this phenomenon in humans, as well as the shared processing between language and music. By utilizing behavioural experiments and neuroimaging.I studied my BSc in Neuroscience with Psychology at the University of Aberdeen, before moving to London to study for my MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience.

PhD and Post-Doc Alumni
Masters and Internship Alumni