CANCELED! CBBM Lecture "The influence of expectations on perception in human communication"

by Dr. Helen Blank, Institute of Systems Neuroscience, Center for Experimental Medicine, University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf

will take place on Tuesday, March 17, 2020 from 15:00 to 16:00 hours in CBBM Building, Ground Floor, Seminar Room B1/B2 (Levi-Montalcini).

Hosts: Prof. Jonas Obleser / Prof. Julia Erb
Institute of Psychology I
University of Lübeck


Successful communication depends on combining sensory input from face and voice with prior knowledge. When sensory signals are degraded, informative priors can improve perception but may also lead to deception. In my talk, I will contrast two functionally-distinct computational mechanisms by which prior expectations can influence sensory representation of degraded speech. Expected features of the speech input can be enhanced or sharpened (Sharpened Signals). Alternatively, in Predictive Error accounts, expected features are suppressed and unexpected signals are processed further. I will present fMRI experiments, which aimed at distinguishing between these two accounts. By combining behavioural, univariate and multivariate fMRI measures of how prior expectations lead to speech perception or speech deception, we provide evidence consistent with Prediction Error computations.



Helen Blank studied Psychology at the University of Münster. During her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig she investigated multisensory integration of faces and voices during human communication (2009-2013). During her post-doc at the MRC Cognition and Brain Sciences Unit in Cambridge, UK she combined computational modelling and multivariate fMRI measurements to investigate how priors improve perception of degraded speech. Since 2017, she works at the University Medical Center Hamburg-Eppendorf and investigates how expectations influence communication.