Poeppel Lab

Brain basis of language, speech and music

Research statement

The overall goal of my research program is to develop a theoretically motivated, computationally explicit, and biologically realistic perspective on auditory cognition (including music), speech perception, and language comprehension. The work proceeds on three fronts:

(i) basic physiological properties of human cortex (non-invasive studies of neural encoding);

(ii) hearing and speech perception (psychophysical and neurobiological approaches); and

(iii) neurobiological foundations of language.

These three areas of inquiry are closely related, although not all of the work is necessarily of an interdisciplinary nature. The lab uses all available cognitive neuroscience tools. The main methods employed include electrophysiological recordings using magnetoencephalography (MEG), electroencephalography (EEG), and electrocorticography (ECoG), as well as imaging studies using structural and functional magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Selected publications in research areas

Functional anatomy of speech and language: The dual stream model

Hickok G, Poeppel D (2007). The cortical organization of speech perception. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 8: 393-402. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2113

Lau E, Phillips C, Poeppel D (2008). A cortical network for semantics: (de)constructing the N400. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 9: 920-933. https://doi.org/10.1038/nrn2532

Fundamental mechanisms of speech perception and language comprehension

Poeppel D, Assaneo F (2020). Speech rhythms and their neural foundation. Nature Reviews Neuroscience 21: 322–334. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41583-020-0304-4

Assaneo F, Ripolles P, Orpella J, Lin W, de Diego Balaguer R, Poeppel D (2019). Spontaneous synchronization to speech reveals neural mechanisms facilitating language learning. Nature Neuroscience 22: 627–632. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-019-0353-z

Ding N, Melloni L, Zhang H, Tian X, Poeppel D (2016). Cortical tracking of hierarchical linguistic structures in connected speech. Nature Neuroscience 19: 158-64. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4186

Overath T, McDermott JH, Zarate JM, Poeppel D (2015). The cortical analysis of speech-specific temporal structure revealed by responses to sound quilts. Nature Neuroscience 18: 903-911. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.4021

Neural oscillations and their role in perception

Luo H, Poeppel D (2007). Phase patterns of neuronal responses reliably discriminate speech in human auditory cortex. Neuron 54: 1001-1010. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2007.06.004

Giraud AL, Poeppel D (2012). Cortical oscillations and speech processing: emerging computational principles and operations. Nature Neuroscience 15: 511–517. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn.3063

Lateralization and its computational consequences for audition

Poeppel D (2003). The analysis of speech in different temporal integration windows: cerebral lateralization as ‘asymmetric sampling in time’. Speech Communication 41: 245-255. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0167-6393(02)00107-3

Boemio A, Fromm S, Braun A, Poeppel D (2005). Hierarchical and asymmetric temporal sensitivity in human auditory cortices. Nature Neuroscience 8: 389-395. https://doi.org/10.1038/nn1409

Conceptual foundations of cognitive neuroscience

Poeppel D (2012). The maps problem and the mapping problem: Two challenges for a cognitive neuroscience of speech and language. Cognitive Neuropsychol 29: 34-55. https://doi.org/10.1080/02643294.2012.710600

Krakauer J, Ghazanfar A, Maciver M, Gomez-Marin A, Poeppel D. (2017) Neuroscience needs behavior: Correcting a reductionist bias. Neuron 93: 480-490. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2016.12.041