CE37 - Neurosciences intégratives et cognitives

Oscillatory processes in audition – OSCILL-A

Submission summary

The human brain rhythmically alternates between optimal and non-optimal moments for perception. This “neural oscillation” is necessary for the brain’s effective operation: Optimal moments “open the gate” for important events that need attention, while non-optimal moments inhibit the processing of irrelevant information that can be ignored. But what happens if important events occur while the “gate is closed”? This poses a major problem for the auditory system, as typical stimuli (e.g., speech) change quickly and might have disappeared when the gate is open again. Current oscillation research is dominated by the visual system which is, due to input that is more stable in time, not confronted with such challenges. Thus, little is known about how oscillations can operate in a system that crucially relies on information unfolding in time, such as the auditory one. We here propose the novel hypothesis that auditory oscillations can be useful or harmful, depending on whether a crucial loss of information – during non-optimal moments – can be avoided. Using a state-of-the-art combination of methods (psychophysics, electroencephalography, transcranial alternating current stimulation, neurofeedback), we validate this notion by constructing experimental scenarios in which we do or do not expect oscillations to be present, based on their hypothesized “usefulness”. We further present novel protocols to improve auditory perception and attention, via a manipulation of neural oscillations. The obtained results are therefore important for conditions in which such functions are impaired, but also for everyday life scenarios in which sustained attention is critical (e.g., for pilots). Together, this project intends to reveal neural mechanisms in the auditory system that can be flexibly allocated to when and where they are needed, and demonstrate how they can be manipulated to change perception and attention. Results obtained could change the direction of the scientific field and inspire future clinical and technological applications.

Project coordination


The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.



Help of the ANR 340,164 euros
Beginning and duration of the scientific project: February 2022 - 42 Months

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