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Auditory Group
Tim Griffiths has been a Wellcome Trust Senior Clinical Fellow since 2000 (renewed 2010 for another 5 years). During tenure of Wellcome Training Fellowships (1995 – 2000) he received training in psychophysics in Newcastle, and training in functional neuoroimaging at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Neuroimaging (WTCN). He has held substantive positions at both centres ever since. His group studies brain bases for auditory perception and the impact of neurological disease on these. The group carries out psychophysical studies of neurological patients so as to precisely characterise the effects of brain disorder, as well as to infer normal mechanisms. More specifically, he has developed bottom-up approaches to auditory cognition requiring new ‘stochastic’ stimuli mimicking the natural acoustic world. This behavioural approach has led to discoveries in relation to developmental language disorders, disorders of musical perception, the effects of stroke, and the neural basis for sensory aberrations such as hallucinations. Parallel functional imaging experiments provide insights into the mechanisms for partitioning the acoustic world into objects with different properties. This latter work has informed an ongoing theoretical debate concerning the nature of auditory objects. Recently he has also started to carry out studies of patients with depth electrodes implanted into auditory cortex in collaboration with Matt Howard in Iowa, and to develop a primate model of auditory cognition using fMRI in Newcastle. A focus of current work is computational modelling of imaging and depth-electrode data to identify precise cortical systems for auditory cognition that might be targeted by interventions. The likely translational impact of his work is now being realised by his extension of knowledge derived from his analysis of brain pitch mechanisms in normals to the study of tinnitus patients.
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