UCL News


UCL in France

1 November 2006

A team from the UCL Ear Institute has attended France's flagship science event.

The team, led by Professor David McAlpine, were participating in 'Villages des Sciences', an exhibition held in Paris's Jardin du Luxemberg as part of French Science Week.

The UCL exhibit - 'Ecoutez!' - focused on the way in which our brains enable us to hear sounds. Using computer demonstrations and simulations, visitors were able to listen to sounds and understand how sound information travels up the auditory system from the ear to the brain and how the brain decodes and understands this information.

Among the demonstrations held over the three-day event was a binaural masking level  difference (BMLD) demonstration. This illustrated how the spatial position of a sound conveys an advantage in distinguishing a signal from noise, for example following a speaker in a busy place.

These tests proved particularly popular with visitors to the event, as team member Dr Heledd Hart explains: "The children really liked the binaural recordings and they seemed to understand and learn from the demonstrations. This was also true of the adults who attended the demonstrations, particularly those with an interest in our research."

The UCL team were invited to attend after a member of the British Council had seen their exhibit at the Royal Society Summer exhibition in 2004. Following on from the success of both of these events, the team have now been invited to exhibit at Techfest, the annual international science and technology festival organised by the Indian Institute of Technology in Mumbai next year.

To find out more about the UCL Ear Institute, use the link at the bottom of this article.