Maria Neimark Geffen, Ph.D.

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Assistant Professor of Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery
Department: Otorhinolaryngology: Head and Neck Surgery
Graduate Group Affiliations

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
A.B. (Molecular Biology)
Princeton University, 2001.
Ph.D. (Biophysics)
Harvard University, 2006.
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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 M, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo L, Briguglio JJ, Natan RG, Geffen MN: Bidirectional Regulation of Innate and Learned Behaviors That Rely on Frequency Discrimination by Cortical Inhibitory Neurons. PLoS Biol 13(12): e1002308, Dec 2015.

Wood, K.C., Blackwell, J.M., Geffen, M.N. : Cortical inhibitory interneurons control sensory processing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology accepted, 2017.

Natan RG, Briguglio JJ, Mwilambwo-Tshilobo L, Jones SI, Aizenberg M, Goldberg EM, Geffen MN: Complementary control of sensory adaptation by two types of cortical interneurons. ELife 4(13): 4, Oct 2015.

Natan RG, Carruthers IM, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo L, Geffen, MN: Gain Control in the Auditory Cortex Evoked by Changing Temporal Correlation of Sounds. Cerebral Cortex 27(3): 2385-2402, Mar 2017.

Carruthers IM, Laplagne DA, Jaegle A, Briguglio JJ, Mwilambwe-Tshilobo L, Natan RG, Geffen MN: Emergence of invariant representation of vocalizations in the auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 114(5): 2726-40, Nov 2015.

Blackwell JM, Taillefumier TO, Natan RG, Carruthers IM, Magnasco MO, Geffen MN: Stable encoding of sounds over a broad range of statistical parameters in the auditory cortex. Eur J Neurosci 43(6): 751–64, Mar 2016.

Gervain J, Werker JF, Geffen MN: Category-specific processing of scale-invariant sounds in infancy. PloS One 9(5): e96278, May 2014.

Mwilambwe-Tshilobo L, Davis AJ, Aizenberg M, Geffen MN: Selective Impairment in Frequency Discrimination in a Mouse Model of Tinnitus. PloS One 10(9): e0137749, Sep 2015.

Zaidi Q, Victor J, McDermott J, Geffen M, Bensmaia S, Cleland T: Perceptual spaces: mathematical structures to neural mechanisms. J Neurosci 33(45): 17597-602, Nov 2013.

Aizenberg M, Geffen MN: Bidirectional effects of aversive learning on perceptual acuity are mediated by the sensory cortex. Nat Neurosci 16(8): 994-6, Aug 2013.

Carruthers IM, Natan RG, Geffen MN: Encoding of ultra-sonic vocalizations in the auditory cortex. J Neurophysiol 109(7): 1912-27, Apr 2013.

Geffen MN, Gervain J, Werker JF, Magnasco MO: Auditory perception of self-similarity in water sounds. Front Integr Neurosci 5: 15, May 2011.

Geffen MN, Broome BM, Laurent G, Meister Ma: Neural encoding of rapidly fluctuating odors. Neuron 61(4): 570-86, Feb 2009.

Geffen M, de Vries SE, Meister M: Retinal ganglion cells can rapidly change polarity from Off to On. PLoS Biol 5(3): e65, Mar 2007.

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Last updated: 09/06/2017
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