Exchanging sounds is a key form of communication for humans and many other animals. Correctly interpreting patterns of vocal sounds is essential for building strong social bonds with others, but is a real challenge for the brain of the listener. My work aims to find out: how do neurons in our brain enable us to successfully communicate with each other? How is the neural coding of vocal communication affected by hearing loss or psychiatric disorders, and how can we accelerate the discovery of new therapies that will help restore vocal perception?
I am a biomedical engineer by training, and obtained a BSc and MSc in Life Sciences and Technology from EPFL (Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne), Switzerland. I then moved to the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tuebingen, Germany, to work towards my PhD (Dr. rer. nat.) in Neuroscience, with the financial support of the Max Planck Society and the Swiss National Science Foundation. From there, I moved to University College London to continue my research on the neuroscience of vocal perception funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation and the Wellcome Trust.
My research investigates how neurons in the brain of mice respond to and encode auditory communication signals during natural social interactions. To do this, I combine the ethological study of natural mouse social behaviour with the ensemble recording and manipulation of neuronal circuits. My goal is to reveal the neuronal mechanisms underlying the interpretation of vocal sequences by the listener, and advance our understanding of hearing and communication in health and disease.