Adapting to Dynamic Environments

We are interested in the ability to successfully navigate through, and interact with, an ever-changing dynamic environment. We investigate the mechanisms which allow adequate timing and adaptation to the rate and rhythm of events in the environment using behavioural and neuroimaging techniques. As inadequate timing factors into the neurofunctional profile of different patient populations, we use our findings to develop strategies for compensation. Such translational approach towards clinical applications is further informed by comparative research with animal models (rodent, macaque monkey) and lesion-symptom mapping studies.

Senior Researchers:

Michael Schwartze

PhD Researchers

Antonio Criscuolo, Pia Brinkmann, Anna Czepiel, Ece Kaya and Matthew Moore

Project I: Sensorimotor neural dynamics in temporal processing

This project aims at deepening our understanding of if and how we exploit temporal information, predictions and attention to foster rhythm processing. In particular, we perform translational and comparative research investigating the functional role of sensorimotor neural dynamics and audio-motor coupling in rhythm cognition. For doing so, we record brain electrophysiology data and manipulate participants’ temporal (when) and formal (what) expectations, as well as the deployment of attentional resources to stimuli. Next, we analytically explore the neural processes which allow for (i) internalizing the timing of external events, (ii) track and synchronize to external rhythms, (iii) generate temporal predictions and (iv) extract hierarchical meter (or beat) structures. Thus, we target delta- and beta-band oscillations, investigate their functional interactions in time (cross-frequency coupling) and space (audio-motor coupling) and causally probe their involvement in rhythm cognition by modulating their phase-locking via non-invasive brain stimulation.  

Project II:  Timing and sensory gating in tinnitus

This projects investigates to what extend timing abilities and sensory gating are linked to tinnitus. Tinnitus is the percept of a sound, without an external source and often described as ‘ringing in the ears’. In collaboration with the MUMC+, this project aims to examine the development, underlying mechanisms and possible treatment strategies of tinnitus. Next to rodent models of tinnitus, we work with human patients to acquire EEG activity and deep brain stimulation (DBS) recordings. 

Project III: Battery for the Assessment of Auditory Sensori-motor and Timing abilities

This project aims at investigating the performance of spontaneous sensory and sensorimotor timing. It investigates emerging patterns and neural correlates of self-paced timing performance during the production and perception of simple sequential behavior as implemented in BAASTA. The immediate goal of the project is to identify and to explore the relation of individual timing characteristics as part of a basic temporal sequencing profile. The long-term goal is to investigate how this basic profile may factor into more complex forms of behaviour. In addition to assessing a profile of sensorimotor and timing abilities, we also investigate how these abilities change during the lifespan and in patients with acquired (focal) and traumatic (diffused) brain injuries or dyslexia. The performance of mentioned patients is correlated with neuropsychological measures of attention and working memory. This project aims at filling in a significant gap in the existing literature of timing abilities in patient populations, which have never been systematically investigated.