Cortical representations of natural sounds probed with large-scale imaging in the ferret

Agnès Landemard
Informations pratiques
16 juin 2022

ENS, room Ribot, 29 rue d'Ulm, 75005 Paris


Jury members:

Tania Barkat (rapporteur, Basel university)
Josh McDermott (rapporteur, MIT)
Jennifer Bizley (examinateur, UCL)
Laurent Bourdieu (examinateur, ENS)
Stephen David (examinateur, OHSU)
Yves Boubenec (co-directeur de thèse, ENS)
Shihab Shamma (co-directeur de thèse, ENS)

Animals have evolved auditory systems that allow them to process sounds that make up their environment, also called natural sounds. This thesis aimed at investigating the processing of these sounds at intermediate stages of the auditory hierarchy in the ferret. To do so, we use functional Ultrasound imaging, which infers neuronal activity by measuring changes in local cerebral blood flow. Using a set of natural and synthetic sounds, we explore the representations of different acoustic features in auditory cortex. We contrast these representations with those found in humans, and extend this work by including ferret vocalizations which are likely more ecologically-relevant for them. We also explore vocalization representations in higher-order, frontal regions of the cortex. Finally, we investigate how representations evolve when the auditory scene becomes more complex and more realistic, with an overlap of dynamic sounds (for example speech or vocalizations) and background noise (like heavy rain).