Robert Wickesberg

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
B.A., Lawrence University
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin – Madison

Mechanisms of hearing

My primary research interest is in how the auditory system processes echoes. Echoes contribute to the perceptual qualities of a sound but not to the perceived location of the source. In a concert hall, for example, the echoes determine whether the hall is perceived to have good or bad acoustics but the source of the music is localized to the orchestra on stage. I am investigating how echoes are suppressed for localizing a sound source but used to create other perceptions. Responses of individual neurons in the peripheral auditory system to sounds with and without echoes are recorded to determine whether the echoes alter the responses. The aim of these experiments is to identify neural circuits in which echoes are or are not suppressed. A primary goal is to integrate the behavioral and physiological findings using mathematical models of neural networks. Another research interest is in how the peripheral auditory system processes speech sounds. In particular, I am interested in the temporal cues that encode normally voiced and whispered speech and how these cues are used to produce linguistic invariant perceptions.

Research Areas

Representative Publications

Loebach, JL and Wickesberg, RE (2008) The psychoacoustics of noise vocoded speech: A physiological means to a perceptual end. Hearing Research 241: 87-96

Stevens, H.E. and R.E. Wickesberg. 1999. Ensemble responses of the auditory nerve to normal and whispered stop consonants. Hearing Res. (in press).

Wickesberg, R.E. and H.E. Stevens. 1998. Responses of auditory nerve fibers to trains of clicks. J. Acoust. Soc. Amer. 103:1990-1999.

Wickesberg, R.E. 1996. Rapid inhibition in the cochlear nuclear complex of the chinchilla. J. Acoust. Soc. Amer. 100:1691-1702.

Oertel, D. and R.E. Wickesberg.1996. A mechanism for the suppression of echoes in the cochlear nuclei. Adv. Speech Hearing Lang. Proc. 3:293-321.

Wickesberg, R.E. and D. Oertel. 1990. Delayed, frequency-specific inhibition in the cochlear nuclei of mice: A mechanism for monaural echo suppression. J. Neurosci. 10:1762-1768.