Fred Dick, Birkbeck
Our auditory environment is full of complex communicative signals, alerts, and behaviorally relevant acoustic backgrounds, all of which need to be learned de novo by each person over development and into adulthood. What is more, the auditory system has to be flexible enough to learn to represent and parse entirely new sound environments — for instance, distinguishing the myriad sources of traffic sounds that are important for one’s survival while cycling through central London. The duration of such learning — over days, weeks, and months — makes it awkward, expensive, and often entirely impractical to study in traditional lab settings, so the possibility of doing extended, larger N, and more dynamic auditory learning studies online is very exciting.
We have been working on a number of such experiments (as have several other auditory groups) — I’ll discuss some of our initial paradigms and findings, as well as touching on some of the ongoing challenges that arise in designing and carrying out online auditory learning and training studies.