Nima Mesgarani, Ph.D.

Title
Assistant Professor
Department
Department of Electrical Engineering
Institution
Columbia University
Address
500 W 120th Street
Mudd 1307
City, State, Zip
New York, NY 10027
Phone
(240) 997-0207
E-mail
nima[at]ee.columbia.edu
Website
http://www.ee.columbia.edu/~nima
Research Field
Neuroscience
Award Year
2015

Research

My research aims to elucidate the neural mechanisms by which the brain recognizes, processes, and decodes speech. Our brains are adept at homing in on the spoken word and transforming those speech sounds into meaningful utterances. We can even pick out-- and participate in-- a single conversation at a party, despite the chatter of the crowd. As a postdoctoral fellow, I developed a powerful method for analyzing the neural activity of patients who have had electrodes implanted in their brains prior to treatment for epilepsy. When these patients listen to the spoken word, neurons in the auditory areas of the brain encode information about the sounds-- and about the speaker. Combining this system with techniques in neurophysiology, linguistics, and computational modeling, I will tease apart the complex neural networks involved in language perception-- and use these findings to generate biologically inspired speech recognition programs. This work could also lead to new treatments to address a range of neuronal disorders from difficulty processing speech to sensory processing deficits.