Speaker: Prof. Jonathan Simon, Electrical and Computer Engineering, The Institute for Systems Research, Biology, Brain and Behavior Institute, University of Maryland College Park

Title: The Progression of Neural Speech Representations Through Auditory Cortex and Beyond, from Acoustics to Language to Semantics

Time:Dec. 15 (Friday), 10:00 - 11:15 AM

Venue:Wangkezhen building Room 1113

Host: Huan Luo


As a stimulus, speech drives robust neural responses all along the auditory and language pathways, allowing the simultaneous investigation of multiple speech processing mechanisms at once, even using the same speech stimulus. I will discuss recent results from magnetoencephalography (MEG) experiments regarding the progression of neural representations of speech at different steps along the auditory pathway and beyond, from auditory cortical representations to lexical (language-based) representations, and further. The earliest representations dominantly reflect the acoustic-stimulus (“bottom up”), but later cortical representations become more and more influenced by linguistic, contextual and general cognitive factors (“top down”), and tend to reflect the speech as it is perceived rather than as the bottom-up acoustic input would predict.


Jonathan Simon's expertise is applied and theoretical neuroscience, with emphasis on auditory neuroscience. His research focuses on neural processing in the brain's auditory system, from specialized processing found only in humans (e.g., speech processing) to generalized processing found in most mammals, including auditory attention and sound localization.

He earned his bachelors in physics from Princeton University, his doctorate in physics from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and did postdoctoral research in theoretical general relativity (University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and University of Maryland-College Park) before embracing the field of neuroscience. He joined the University of Maryland's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department in 2001, the Biology Department in 2002, and the Institute for Systems Research in 2013. Simon is co-director of the KIT-Maryland Magnetoencephalography Center, and of the Computational Sensorimotor Systems Laboratory (CSSL).