Department of Otorhinolaryngology

faculty photo

Maria Neimark Geffen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery
Department: Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery

Contact information
Department of Otorhinolaryngology
University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine
5 Ravdin
3400 Spruce St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215.898.0782
Fax: 215.898.9994
Lab: 215.573.7691
Graduate Group Affiliations
A.B. (Molecular Biology)
Princeton University, 2001.
Ph.D. (Biophysics)
Harvard University, 2006.
Post-Graduate Training
Fellow, Physics and Biology, Center for Studies in Physics and Biology Rockefeller University, 2006-2009.
Raymond and Beverly Sackler Fellow in Physics and Biology, Center for Studies in Physics and Biology Rockefeller University, 2009-2010.
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Description of Research Expertise

Neuronal circuits facilitating hearing in complex acoustic environments.

The long-term goal of our research is to identify the neuronal circuits and codes that support hearing in real-life acoustic environments. Auditory perception is shaped by the interaction of sensory inputs, experience, emotion and attention. Decades of research have identified neuronal brain areas and characterized how neuronal response properties to basic sounds, such as tones or whistles, are transformed in the auditory pathway in the passive brain. However, we are still missing an understanding of how the brain creates a percept of a complex auditory scene, composed of myriad sounds, and how this representation is shaped by learning and experience. My laboratory seeks to develop a quantitative understanding of the neuronal circuits supporting dynamic auditory perception, through a combination of behavioral, electrophysiological, optogenetic and computational approaches in mice and, through collaboration, in humans. Our specific goals are: (1) To identify the neuronal circuits that support learning-driven changes in auditory perception; (2) To understand the dynamics of population neuronal code that supports hearing in complex acoustic environments; and (3) To identify the development of brain mechanisms underlying development of perception of environmental sounds and speech.

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Selected Publications

Aizenberg Mark, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo Laetitia, Briguglio John J, Natan Ryan G, Geffen Maria N: Bidirectional Regulation of Innate and Learned Behaviors That Rely on Frequency Discrimination by Cortical Inhibitory Neurons. PLoS biology 13(12): e1002308, Dec 2015.

Natan Ryan Gregory, Briguglio John J, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo Laetitia, Jones Sara, Aizenberg Mark, Goldberg Ethan M, Geffen Maria Neimark: Complementary control of sensory adaptation by two types of cortical interneurons. eLife 4, Oct 2015.

Carruthers Isaac M, Laplagne Diego A, Jaegle Andrew, Briguglio John, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo Laetitia, Natan Ryan G, Geffen Maria Neimark: Emergence of invariant representation of vocalizations in the auditory cortex. Journal of neurophysiology Page: jn.00095.2015, Aug 2015.

Gervain Judit, Werker Janet F, Geffen Maria N: Category-specific processing of scale-invariant sounds in infancy. PloS one 9(5): e96278, 2014.

Mwilambwe-Tshilobo Laetitia, Davis Andrew J O, Aizenberg Mark, Geffen Maria N: Selective Impairment in Frequency Discrimination in a Mouse Model of Tinnitus. PloS one 10(9): e0137749, 2015.

Zaidi Qasim, Victor Jonathan, McDermott Josh, Geffen Maria, Bensmaia Sliman, Cleland Thomas A: Perceptual spaces: mathematical structures to neural mechanisms. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience 33(45): 17597-602, Nov 2013.

Aizenberg, M. and Geffen, M.N.: Bidirectional effects of aversive learning on perceptual acuity are mediated by the sensory cortex. Nature Neuroscience 16: 994-6, Aug 2013.

Carruthers, I.M., Natan, R.G., Geffen, M.N.: Encoding of ultra-sonic vocalizations in the auditory cortex. Journal of Neurophysiology 109(7): 1912, April 2013.

Geffen Maria N, Gervain Judit, Werker Janet F, Magnasco Marcelo O: Auditory perception of self-similarity in water sounds. Frontiers in integrative neuroscience 5: 15, 2011.

Geffen Maria N, Broome Bede M, Laurent Gilles, Meister Markus: Neural encoding of rapidly fluctuating odors. Neuron 61(4): 570-86, Feb 2009.

Geffen Maria Neimark, de Vries Saskia E J, Meister Markus: Retinal ganglion cells can rapidly change polarity from Off to On. PLoS biology 5(3): e65, Mar 2007.

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Last updated: 02/02/2017
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