As a neuroscientist, I study the neural mechanisms of perception and cognition in behaving animals.
Sounds are composed of a myriad of acoustic features which, combined together, can convey meanings and be used for communication purposes. The interpretation of sounds is also interdependent with their context, as the same acoustic stimulus can be interpreted as a warning signal or a harmless environmental sound. This process basically depends on recent history, multisensory interactions, and learned contingencies. My research focuses on how the mammalian neocortex encodes natural sounds, and how this encoding can flexibly adjust to contextual needs.
For tackling these questions, I follow two main axes of research. First I investigate how the auditory cortex encodes acoustic features that are relevant in behaviorally-relevant sounds. However, sound encoding is a dynamical process that is altered by experience, learning, and context. Therefore I also focus on the cognitive processes that can influence this sensory encoding, with a particular emphasis on context-dependent attentional modulation. I am deeply convinced that achieving this goal relies on an integrated approach, combining different spatial scales and quantitative techniques. From a methodological viewpoint, therefore, I believe it is essential to employ recording techniques and analysis methods focused on population-level activity in behaving animals. These methods range from temporally-precise electrophysiological recordings, all the way to large-scale high-resolution neuroimaging.