UCL Ear Institute

Dr Lucy Anderson

Dr Lucy Anderson

Senior Research Associate

The Ear Institute

Faculty of Brain Sciences

Joined UCL
1st Feb 2009

Research summary

The detection of rapid changes of sound is critical to our ability to interact with the auditory world around us – think of the pleasures of hearing rustling leaves or whispered speech, just two of the many sounds encountered in daily life which are defined by rapid changes in intensity over time.  While the hearing structures of the ear are necessary to relay the information, the ability to understand, interpret and interact with these sounds depends entirely upon the neural mechanisms within the central auditory pathways of the brain.

The central auditory pathway is a complex one; however, I have shown that the auditory thalamus, previously thought as merely the penultimate relay in the auditory pathway actually is highly interconnected with all other major auditory-brain areas.  This connectivity is highly and specifically organised with individual auditory thalamic subdivisions receiving inputs from and being influenced by particular regions/pathways.  My research is interdisciplinary using a variety of electrophysiological, anatomical, histological, immunological, and optogenetic techniques.  By employing these techniques across the different auditory thalamic subdivisions it is possible to hypothesize how and where within the auditory pathway information is being transformed. 

Recent independent research questions include:

•    How is the auditory thalamus connected within the central auditory pathway?

•    Do the physiological properties of the auditory thalamic subdivisions reflect their anatomical inputs?

•    How is auditory information processed within the auditory thalamus?

•    Can deficits in auditory temporal acuity arise from neural abnormalities at the level of the auditory thalamus?

•    Do deficits in auditory temporal acuity observed in ageing arise from neural abnormalities at the level of the auditory thalamus?

•    Can the effects of age-related and noise-related hearing loss be disentangled in the auditory midbrain and thalamus?


University of Nottingham
PhD, Neurophysiology | 2006
University of Glasgow
BSc Hons, Physiology | 2000


I am interested in understanding how the brain interprets the auditory world around us, and how disruptions in this process lead to hearing impairments.  While researching potential PhD topics the absence of information on the auditory thalamus inspired me to create my own thesis question and to characterise this apparently forgotten region of the central auditory pathway.  In 2006, I moved to UCL Ear Institute where I have undertaken several different physiological and anatomical projects to further understand the role of the auditory thalamus; and in the process converted a previously cortical research lab into a thalamocortical one.  I am now pursuing my own independently funded research into the effects of ageing at the level of the auditory thalamus.