Our brain detects the structure that arises from the myriad of stimuli in the surrounding world and uses it to identify unfamiliar, attractive or dangerous stimuli. The lab focuses on the process by which we learn the structure in the world and use it to perceive embedded relevant information. We focus on the auditory system.

 

As we move through the world we detect a myriad of sounds, colours and smells that together give us information about where we are and what to expect (e.g. the silence when we wake tells us that it has snowed). Only if we make sense of this background information can we focus on the few relevant stimuli (e.g. close the window when we sense that a storm is approaching).

 

The brain can detect and learn the structure in the surrounding environment simply because it is there, independently of how relevant it is in that moment. This form of learning, known as statistical learning, is the focus of the lab. Statistical learning is essential for the detection of relevant stimuli on a background of rich and varied sensory input. Because it allows us to recognize normality, it enables us to detect unexpected or dangerous stimuli.