Decoding attention-driven speech source separation in human cortex

Jens Hjortkjær

Normal hearing listeners can focus on a particular speech source in complex multi-talker environments (the so-called 'Cocktail Party Problem'), but most hearing-impaired listeners are severely challenged in this ability.
The cortical mechanisms involved in attention-driven sound segregation are poorly understood and little is known about how these neural mechanisms adapt when hearing is impaired.

This project uses magnetic resonance imaging and scalp encephalography to measure cortical activity patterns involved in attention-driven segregation of speech sounds in normal and hearing-impaired listeners. The aim is to develop methods for robust identification of a listener's attentional focus from the neural data. The project also investigates functional and structural cortical changes associated with (successful or unsuccessful) learning in new hearing-aid users.

The results of this work will shed light on the cortical mechanisms behind attention-driven speech sound separation, which may have implications for the future development of 'intelligent' hearing systems.

This project supported by the Oticon Foundation

DTU Orbit

Media news

Recently, DR2 made some recordings in AVIL (audio-visual immersion lab). On December 20 2018 it was broadcasted in Danish television. Learn more about "superheroes and superhearing":…/simons…/simons-superkraefter-supersanser
The part recorded at DTU starts at 7:20

In a new paper published in in Cerebral Cortex October 2017, Jens Hjortkjær and co-workers at the Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR) demonstrate a method to decode listeners brain activity patterns to determine what sound source a person is listening to.

At the opening of The Festival of Research in April 2015, HRH Crown Princess Mary tried some of the facilities demonstrated by Hearing Systems researchers.

Crown Princess Mary enhanted by the World of Research
Article (in Danish) in the Royal Magazine

At the Speech in Noise workshop in Copenhagen January 2015 the Colin Cherry Award was presented to Postdoc at Hearing Systems Jens Hjortkjær for his his poster about “Single-trial EEG measures of attention to speech in a multi-talker scenario”. Read more here

Postdoc at Hearing Systems and DRCMR Jens Hjortkjær is featured in an article in Hørelsen, the magazine for the Danish Association of Hard of Hearing.
News article on DTU

Read the whole article here (in Danish)

At DTAS' annual meeting in September 2014 Jens Hjortkjær presented his project. Read more here


Jens Hjortkjær
Associate Professor
DTU Health Tech
+45 30 29 16 90