Welcome to the Wikispace for the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics program
Physics of Hearing: From Neurobiology to Information Theory and Back
May 30, 2017 - July 21, 2017

Coordinators: Hervé Bourlard, Maria Neimark Geffen, Jim Hudspeth, Tobias Reichenbach
Scientific Advisors:

Dolores Bozović, Judit Gervain, Hynek Hermansky, Mari Ostendorf, Josh McDermott, Cynthia F. Moss, Malcolm Slaney, Shihab Shamma, and Ruedi Stoop


Humans have an extraordinary capability to analyze a complex auditory scene. We can, for instance, easily recognize and understand a speaker despite background noise such as other voices around us. The human ability to resolve such a complex auditory scene greatly exceeds that of modern speech-recognition technology, which can follow a single speaker in a quiet environment but not in background noise. Humans are not alone in their ability to parse the auditory environment, however, for many animals have comparable capabilities of discerning communication signals.

An impressive body of research over the past few decades has elucidated the biophysical mechanisms whereby the inner ear encodes sound stimulation into neural signals as well as some of the principles by which these neural signals are subsequently processed in the auditory brainstem and cerebral cortex. Nevertheless, we still lack an understanding of how a complex auditory scene is decomposed into its individual, natural signals such as speech. Progress on this issue requires a conjunction of biophysical and neurobiological studies of the auditory system and information-theoretical analyses of the complex sound signals that the auditory system detects and processes.

This program aims to enable progress on this issue by bringing researchers on the biophysics and neurobiology of hearing together with those investigating the information theory of complex auditory signals. We expect that the combination of these two perspectives will foster novel and exciting collaborations between program participants and yield significant progress in the neurobiology of hearing and oral communication as well as in speech-recognition technology.

Need Help?

  • Hugo Weissbart has volunteered to be the wikimaster for our program. He can be reached by regular email here, by phone at extension 6387, or in person in office 1116.

Getting started

  • Learning to use this wiki is no harder than learning to use email. Briefly, to edit a page, simply click the Edit tab at the top of the page. To add a page, click on the New Page item at the top left. Every page has a discussion board associated with it. To peruse the comments or to add your thoughts, click the discussion tab on the top of any page.
  • There is practice wikispace where you can try your hand at using the editor without fear of destroying previous handiwork. Here, you will find pages illustrating how to add tables, files, images, mathematical expressions, etc. You will also find a list of all previous KITP wikis from which you may get some idea how others have exploited this platform.