Laboratory of Auditory Coding


Maria is awarded the Human Frontiers in Science program award to study the development of speech processing in collaboration with Judit Gervain at the Laboratoire de la Perception, CNRS, Paris. Press release is here.

Burroughs Wellcome Fund features Maria in a Focus podcast.

Ryan’s talk at Cosyne was a huge success.

John Briguglio, a graduate student in the Physics graduate group, joins the lab. He is supervised jointly by Vijay Balasubramanian. Welcome, John!

Andrew Chen is our new undergrad technician. Welcome, Andrew!

Mark wins the NARSAD Young investigator award!

Mark’s and Maria’s paper is published in Nature Neuroscience! News release is here.

Maria is featured in a blog on women in neuroscience.



Maria N. Geffen

mgeffen at med dot upenn dot edu

Tel. 215.898.0782

    Speech comprehension is facilitated by neuronal coding schemes that impart precision in the detection and discrimination of the highly variable acoustic patterns of speech signals. At the same time the coding schemes must be flexible enough to retain comprehension through wide ranges of loudness, contrast and speech production rates. While sound encoding by individual neurons in the primary auditory cortex (A1) has been extensively characterized, how A1 neurons act in concert as a population to encode acoustic information, and how this multi-neuronal representation of the sound is transformed as statistical properties of complex sounds, such as speech, dynamically change, is presently unknown. The overarching goal of our research is to understand the neuronal mechanisms by which ensembles of neurons in the auditory cortex construct a precise yet adaptable representation of the acoustic environment. Using chronic recordings of activity in neuronal ensembles from awake rats, and applying innovative computational tools to analyze these populations, we identify unique properties of multi-neuronal interactions in A1 that underlie precise sound representations, tolerant to changes in contrast and temporal scale. We also use optogenetic tools to isolate the function of specific subpopulations of neurons in auditory scene segregation. Another line of research in the laboratory deals with investigating the effect of emotional learning on auditory perception.