Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania

Geffen Laboratory of
Auditory Coding


June 2019: We have openings for an experimental and a computational postdoc to study the neuronal correlates of decision-making in mice in collaboration with the Kording and Cohen laboratories, funded by the NIH BRAIN initiative. More details here.

May 2019: Congratulations to the Geffen lab on escaping (50% of us) from a dark and spooky vault! 

May 2019: We discovered that the fear center of the brain uses an inhibitory projection to control sensory processing​. BioRXiv

April 2019: Congratulations to Dr. Blackwell on a successful defense of her Ph.D. thesis. Enjoy Stony Brook!

March 2019: Our paper on the function of cortico-collicular projections in sound processing is posted on BioRXiv.

December 2018: Our new paper based on a collaboration with Dani Bassett and Rick Betzel is on BioRXiv: Betzel, R.F., Wood, K.C., Angeloni, C.F., Geffen, M.N., Bassett, D.S. (2018) Stability of spontaneous, correlated activity in mouse auditory cortex. BioRXivWe find that a small subset of neurons in the auditory cortex serve as a network core, stabilizing the cortical network over weeks.

October 2018: We welcome our new postdoc, Alex Lesicko! Alex received her PhD at the University of Illinois in the laboratory of Daniel Llanos where she studied the neuronal circuits in the inferior colliculus.

October 2018: Check out our new perspective with Dr. Judit Gervain on the connections between development in speech processing and efficient coding in auditory perception, published online in TINS. pdf

August 2018: We are looking for a research technician join with Dr. Jason Brant. This is a terrific opportunity for a recent college graduate or for a more seasoned biologist to work on studying the brain circuits for improved neuroprostheses for hearing. See here.

February 2018: Modulating interneurons can have vastly different effects on neuronal activity across subjects, but those effects are correlated with behavior: see our paper now in print in J Neuroscience. Article. pdf

December 2017: Our latest review of cortical microcircuits for auditory processing is published in Nature Communications!

November 2017: Going to SFN 2017? Check out our posters: Su AM, 226.0: 2-p in AC before/after conditioning; Mo AM, 345.09: functional network analysis in AC; Tu PM, 586.25: neuronal mechanisms for hearing in noise.

October 2017: Turns out that different inhibitory neurons DO play a differential role in sensory processing if we look at temporal adaptation. Cell Reports

September 2017: Our review of the function of inhibitory neurons in sensory processing is online: Wood, K.C., Blackwell, J.M., Geffen, M.N. (2017) Cortical inhibitory neurons control sensory processing. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 46, 200-207. Article.

September 2017: Jennifer and Maria had an amazing time and worked very hard at the Auditory Cortex meeting in Banff!

August 2017: We posted our new paper on the role of cortical inhibitory interneurons in maintaining frequency tuning following adaptation. Article 

June 2017: Maria is pleased to co-organize the Physics of Hearing workshop at KITP in Santa Barbara, CA. She, Kath and Chris have been learning about cochlear mechanics, speech processing and recognition and chatting to our colleagues in central auditory coding. We will come back with many new ideas for experiments!

April 2017: Big congrats to Dr. Ryan Natan for winning the Winegrad award for the best Ph.D. thesis in neuroscience at Penn! Ryan will receive the award at the BGG Commencement Ceremony on May 15 and will present a brief speech summarizing his research to a broad audience.

April 2017: Big congrats to Chris Angeloni on being awarded an F31 pre-doctoral fellowship from NIDCD to study neuronal mechanisms of hearing in noise! Here's to the next three successful years!

March 2017: We posted our new paper on correlations between optogenetic manipulations of cortical activity and auditory behavior: Article

Archive 2016

March 2016: Maria is awarded an R01 grant from NIDCD to study "Neuronal circuits supporting learning-driven changes in auditory perception". This is a 5-year grant.

February 2016: Going to CoSyNe? Come learn about our research. Maria is giving a talk on Friday, 2/24, at 8:30 AM at the main conference and on Tuesday, 2/28 at 8 AM at the workshop "Perception and learning of temporal structure in sensory streams". It's early but luckily will leave enough time for skiing! Chris and Jennifer are presenting posters on Thursday night at the main conference (I-14, I-36).

February 2016: We have two postdoctoral positions available -- an experimental and a theoretical. Please see more info under Contact.

December 2016: Congratulations to Ryan Natan on defending his PhD! Ryan crushed it at his defense, and I am so very proud of the beautiful data that he presented. His family much enjoyed the elaborate introduction relating very high-level concepts of cortical coding to our everyday experiences. Good luck to Ryan at Janelia! Don't forget to come and visit!

November 2016: Congratulations to John Briguglio on the successful defense of his PhD thesis! John gave a great talk that convinced even the most theoretical physicists that we can learn a thing or two from neuroscience. Here's to a successful postdoc at Janelia!

November 2016: Come see our posters at APAN and SFN!

November 2016: Congratulations to Maria for receiving the Young Investigator Spotlight award at the Advanced and Perspectives in Auditory Neuroscience Meeting!

May 2016: Congratulations to Ryan, Isaac and Laetitia on yet another awesome paper! In this paper in Cerebral Cortex, we show that neurons in the auditory cortex modify their response properties to sounds depending on their ringing quality -- e.g. the sound of a bell has prolonged ringing, which is termed temporal correlation, whereas the sound of static noise has very low temporal correlation. This paper nicely complements a series of findings in our lab of how neurons adjust their response properties to represent sounds across different acoustic environments.

March 30: Tune in at 2 pm today to the online chat hosted by Maria on how to advance in your career in neuroscience.

March 2016: Our work with Judit Gervain on on identifying the neural correlates of processing of natural sounds in infants has just appeared online! Looking forward to continuing this exciting collaboration!

March 2016: Welcome, Kath! Kath Wood is a new postdoc who comes to us after completing her PhD at the University College London in the group of Dr. Joennifer Bizley.

March 2016: Big congrats to Jennifer, Ryan and Cedric, who presented exciting new data at Cosyne 2016. Maria was so busy as a general chair of the conference that she forgot to post the announcement for the posters in advance. Nonetheless, we got a great turnout at the posters, and the meeting was a great success!


Archive 2015

December 2015: Our new paper that characterizes neuronal population responses in the auditory cortex to artificial water-like sounds is now out in European Journal of Neuroscience! Congratulations, Jennifer and Ryan!

December 2015: Our new paper that identifies how cortical inhibition controls auditory behavior is published in PLoS Biology! Congratulations, Mark, John and Ryan!

October 2015: Maria will be delivering the keynote address at the Celebration for Women in Neuroscience at the SFN meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 20 at noon. You need to pre-register to attend!

October 2015: Please come see/hear our presentations at SFN meeting: Ryan will present a poster on neuronal mechanisms for cortical stimulus-specific adaptation on Saturday afternoon (Oct. 17, 57.07/J1), and Jennifer will give a talk on cortical regulation of frequency discrimination on Wednesday (Oct. 21, 8:45 am, N226, 652.04). You can also catch both presentations as posters at the APAN meeting on Friday (Oct. 16).

​October 2015: Our new paper discovering the brain mechanisms that help us hear unexpected sounds is published in eLife! Congratulations, Ryan, John, Mark, Laetitia and Sara! Press release is here.

September 2015: Our new paper  on impairment in hearing acuity due to tinnitus is published in PloS One. Congratulations, Laetitia, and good luck on you PhD at Cornell!

August 2015: Our new paper on emergence of invariant representation of vocalizations in the auditory cortex is published in Journal of Neurophysiology online. Congratulations, Dr. Carruthers!

May 2015: NGG students and members of the Geffen Lab will be running the Auditory Illusions booth at the Philadelphia Science Festival Carnival on the Parkway on Saturday, May 2!

April 2015: Maria gives a presentation on principles of sounds processing in the brain at the NYC Music Hackathon.

April 2015: Maria is awarded an R01 grant from NIDCD to study "Circuit mechanisms of sound processing and detection in the auditory pathway". This is a 5-year grant.

March 2015: Penn NGG students had a blast giving neuroscience workshops to first- and second-graders at the Independence Charter School!

Feb. 2015: Congratulations to Dr. Isaac Carruthers on the successful defense of his doctoral dissertation!

Feb. 2015: Maria is very excited to be co-organizing Cosyne 2015 (with Konrad Kording) and hopes to see you there!


Archive 2014

Oct. 2014: Brain Matters interviews Maria during her visit to UT Austin.

July 2014: Our laboratory’s research is featured on Philadelphia public radio, WHYY: click here for a radio podcast. This is a great link for a broad overview of our research on the neuronal basis of communication.

Jan. 2014: Maria publishes a paper with Judit Gervain and Janet Werker on infant categorization of scale-invariant sounds: Gervain, J., Werker, J.F., Geffen, M.N. Category-specific processing of scale-invariant sounds in infancy. PLoS One, 9(5): e96278. Pubmedpdf.

May 2014: 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.

March 2014: Maria and the Penn Neuroscience graduate students had a lot of fun doing presentations about neuroscience at the Independence Charter School.

Feb. 2014: Ryan’s talk at Cosyne was a huge success!


Archive 2013

Dec. 2013: Burroughs Wellcome Fund features Maria in a Focus podcast.

Oct. 2013: Maria is awarded an R03 from NIDCD on studying "The role of cortical interneurons in auditory processing and learning". This is a new investigator mechanism through NIDCD and is awarded for 3 years.

Sep. 2013: Mark wins the NARSAD Young investigator award!

July 2013: Mark’s and Maria’s paper is published in Nature NeurosciencePress release is here.

June 2013: Maria is featured in a blog on women in neuroscience.