University of Ottawa
Camping alone under the stars, it may not be difficult to focus on your thoughts or a good book, but in complex auditory scenes like a noisy cafeteria, your ability to focus on the task at hand is a remarkable feat. Yet more remarkable is the fact that your attention can be drawn to important events in your environment despite this focus, even though this attention switch can happen after the relevant event has ended. These two capacities are attributed to different, yet complementary systems that operate in the brain. One system, constrained by the capacity limits of our conscious awareness, optimally processes environmental events that are within the current focus of selective attention. The other, which operates at a pre-conscious level and has a larger capacity, processes all environmental stimuli to some degree, and alerts the conscious system if potentially important events are detected. Only through the operation of these two systems can we maintain both focus and receptiveness to unattended events.
At the Hearing and Attention Lab, it is our goal to understand these two systems and how they interact, especially in the domain of hearing. In order to deepen our understanding of how attended and unattended stimuli are processed, we leverage the power of electroencephalography (EEG), which offers a unique window into the neural processing of unattended events. In addition to studying the process of attention itself, we study how it is influenced by factors related to both the listener (such as working memory capacity and motivation) and the auditory scene. Speech as a stimulus is particularly fascinating, owing to inconsistent evidence regarding whether attention is required for semantic information to be processed.
Members of the Hearing and Attention Lab also engage in interdisciplinary applied research aimed at supporting and improving the application of EEG in clinical contexts related to hearing.
- D’Arcy, RCN, Weaver, D, Ghosh Hajra, S, Liu, C, Sculthorpe, L. Cognitive function assessment in a patient. United States Patent #9,339,227.
- Petley, L, Gandhi, S, Carlile, S, Akram, S. Ear-worn electronic device incorporating motor brain-computer interface. United States Patent # 10,582,316.
Publications (last 5 years)
- Ells, EML, Rudolph, ED, Sculthorpe-Petley, L, Abriel, SC, Campbell, DJ, Tibbo, PG, Fisher, DJ. (2018). Alterations of complex mismatch negativity (cMMN) elicited by a two-tone pattern paradigm in early-phase psychosis. Biological Psychology 135, 128-135.
- Petley, L, Bardouille, T, Omisade, A, Chiasson, D, Patterson, S, Froese, P, Newman, AJ, Beyea, S. (2018). Attentional dysfunction and recovery in concussion: Effects on the P300m and Contingent Magnetic Variation. Brain Injury 32(4), 464-473.
- Jamison, C, Aiken, SJ, Kiefte, M, Newman, AJ, Bance, M, Sculthorpe-Petley, L. (2016). Preliminary investigation of the passively-evoked N400 as a tool for estimating speech in noise thresholds. American Journal of Audiology 25, 344-358.
- Sculthorpe-Petley, L, Liu, C, Ghosh Hajra, S, Parvar, H, Satel, J, Trappenberg, TP, Boshra, R, D’Arcy, RCN. (2015). A rapid event-related potential (ERP) method for point-of-care evaluation of brain function: Development of the Halifax Consciousness Scanner. Journal of Neuroscience Methods 245, 64-72.
Conference Presentations (last 5 years)
- Moore, D, Hunter, L, Vannest, J, Pedapati, E, Blankenship, C, Petley, L, Hoyda, J, Cash, E, Stewart, H. (2021). Physiological indices related to specific speech processing impairments in children with listening difficulties and normal audiograms. Symposium at Hearing Across the Lifespan in Cernobbio, Italy (postponed due to COVID-19).
- Blankenship, C, Petley, L, Nguyen, T, Campagna, N, Perdew, A, Clevenger, N, Cash, E, Dimitrijevic, A, Moore, DR. (2020). Acoustic change complex and the auditory steady state response with amplitude-modulated noise in children with listening difficulties. Poster presentation at the 43rd Annual MidWinter Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology in San Jose, CA, U.S.A.
- Yazel, B, Petley, L, Stickle, M, Joshi, S, Miller, L. (2018). Tracking the dynamics of selective attention and listening fatigue in noisy conversations with EEG, eye tracking, and pupillometry. Oral presentation at the 2018 International Hearing Aid Research Conference in Tahoe City, CA, U.S.A.
- Quraan, MA, Petley, L, Chiasson, D, Froese, P, Patterson, S, Newman, A, Omisade, T, Bardouille, T, Beyea, S. (2018). Functional connectivity in patients with mild traumatic brain injury compared to healthy controls using MEG. Poster presentation at the 21st International Conference on Biomagnetism in Philadelpha, PA, U.S.A.
- Jamison, C, Aiken, SJ, Kiefte, M, Newman, AJ, Bance, M, Sculthorpe-Petley, L. (2016). Preliminary investigation of the passively-evoked N400 as a tool for estimating speech in noise thresholds. Oral presentation at the 16th International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association Conference in Halifax, NS, Canada.
- Petley, L, Bardouille, T, Omisade, A, Beyea, SD, Newman, AJ. Networks of visual attention as revealed using magnetoencephalography. (2016). Oral presentation at the Dalhousie University Psychology and Neuroscience 42nd Annual Graham Goddard In-House Conference in Halifax, NS, Canada.