One key research direction of our team aims to better understand how hearing-impairment impact auditory perception. This line of work is supported by the William Demant Foundation and has been carried out in collaboaration with the Eriksholm Research Centre (part of Oticon). Sara Carta, the senior PhD student in the team, has been carrying out a series of studies on this topic, investigating the neural underpinnings of attentional selection in multi-talker scenarios in hearing impaired participants with EEG. The project is co-supervised by Prof. Alejandro Lopez Valdes (TCD), and by Emina Alickovic and Johannes Zaar from the Eriksholm Research Centre. Sara uses multivariate analysis methods on EEG signals to tease apart different stages of speech processing in the human brain. She is investigating immersive realistic multi-talker scenarios (see the photo below).
MusiCare is a new project funded by The Dunhill Medical Trust. The project aims to assess the impact of music therapy on older adults’ cognition. The acceleration in the number of older people living with cognitive impairment or dementia has increased the need for simple, inexpensive interventions to improve the quality of life for such individuals and their families. Policy-makers sensitive to issues associated with mental-health challenges in aging have embraced social prescribing, and a wealth of research has flourished to study non-pharmacological forms of preventative intervention. The focus of this study is on developing novel forms of intervention for older adults who are healthy or experiencing mild-to-severe cognitive decline, aiming at understanding whether music therapy could be used in preventive programs to support cognitive functions and wellbeing, and identifying the best match between types of music therapy and levels of cognitive decline. Results will be delivered through a multi-disciplinary framework based on consolidated collaborations and pilot work, and by developing a previous study conducted in partnership with MHA care-homes UK, involving multiple stakeholders and specialists. Our lab is contributing to this multi-disciplinary framework by offering solutions for EEG-based cognitive assessment in care-homes with naturalistic paradigms, such as natural speech listening. Please find more information here and on Prof Fabia Franco's website.