Catherine Perrodin

Alumni Department Physiology of Cognitive Processes

Main Focus

Communication is not restricted to human language: indeed, most primates use vocal and facial expressions for social interactions and survival. Like humans, nonhuman primates are able to extract and interpret vocal features to gain knowledge about the speaker, such as its species, identity, body size and emotional state. Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) studies have identified brain areas dedicated to processing species-specific vocal signals (‘voice’ areas) in the anterior temporal lobe, and researchers have started to establish homologies between how the brains of primates process communication signals.

Nevertheless, it remains unclear how voices  are represented at the neuronal level. My research applies extracellular electrophysiology targeting the ‘voice’ area to investigate the encoding of vocal features at the resolution of single neurons.

I study the neural representation of voices by: (a) evaluating the organization and auditory encoding properties of neurons in the ‘voice’ area and (b) investigating the multisensory influence of face information on voice processing in the context of audiovisual communication. These complementary approaches will provide an integrated perspective on the neuronal representation of voices in a dedicated auditory area, and extend our understanding of how the primate brain processes vocal communication signals.

Research interests:

- Electrophysiology

- Auditory and sensory processing

- Neuronal coding

- Communication signals

- Neural networks and microcircuits

- Autism

Neuronal selectivity for conspecific voices in an fMRI voice-sensitive cluster

- There are specialized in the primate brain, that seem to have developed a different stimulus encoding strategy than face cells in the visual system

- about our study

- Our publication featured by

Encoding of higher-level vocal features

- Neurons in the voice area represent , and a distinct neuronal subpopulation is sensitive to caller identity

Multisensory interactions between voices and faces in the voice area

- influence the auditory processing by voice area neurons, but sensitivity to voice/face congruency only emerges at the next sensory processing level

Encoding of acoustic components of vocalizations

Curriculum Vitae


Apr. ’09 – Jul. ‘14              PhD in Neuroscience (Dr. rer. nat.) at the Graduate School of Neural and Behavioural Sciences, International Max Planck Research School, University of Tuebingen, Germany

Oct. ‘06 – Oct. ‘08           Master of Science (MSc) in Life Sciences and Technology (engineering degree with a neuroscience major), Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)

Oct. ‘03- June ‘06            Bachelor of Science (BSc) in Life Sciences and Technology (biomedical engineering), Swiss Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL)

Research experience

Oct ’08 – ‘14                         Doctoral research at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics, (Pr. Nikos K. Logothetis), Tuebingen, Germany

Sponsors: Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), Max Planck Society

Project:                         The representation of communication signals at the neuronal level: an electrophysiological investigation of the ‘voice’ area

Sept. ’07 – Sept. -08         Master thesis at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics (Pr. Nikos K. Logothetis), Tuebingen, Germany

Sponsors: Max Planck Society, German Academic Exchange Office (DAAD)

Master thesis:              Multisensory integration of dynamic voices and faces in the monkey brain

July – Sept.  ‘06                 EPFL Summer Research Program at the Laboratory of Neural Microcircuitry (Pr. Henry Markram)

Participation supported by the Cluster Consortium fellowship.

Project:                         Valproic acid-induced alterations of the microcircuitry of

pyramidal neurons in the medial prefrontal cortex

Study of neuronal connectivity, plasticity and intrinsic electrical properties in a rat model of autism using in vitro multi-electrode patch-clamping and extracellular stimulation

July – Sept. ‘04                  Production and R&D internship, CIBA Vision, Atlanta, USA

Polymer synthesis (GMP, distillation, ultra filtration, titrations), toxicology (cell culture, flow cytometry), infrared spectroscopy

Honors & Awards

2013                                     Fellow, Riken Brain Science Institute Summer Program, Tokyo, Japan.

2012-2013                          Fellowship for Prospective Researchers (18 months), awarded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

2012                                     Leadership award, Novartis International Biotechnology Leadership Camp (BioCamp).

2011                                     Fellow, FENS-IBRO Imaging Training Center, Lausanne/Geneva, Switzerland.

2010                                     NENS Stipend for Training Stay, Network of European Neuroscience Schools/Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (NENS/FENS).

2010                                     Travel award, Tucker-Davis Symposium on Advances and Perspectives in Auditory Neurophysiology (APAN 2010), San Diego, USA.

2009                                     Graduate student award, 10th International Multisensory Research Forum (IMRF 2009), New York City, USA

2008                                     EPFL award for Best Neuroscience Master Thesis, EPFL, Switzerland

2008                                     Research stipend from the German Academic Exchange Office (DAAD)

2006                                     Cluster Consortium award (Consortium Linking Universities of Science and Technology for Education and Research) for excellent bachelor scores, demonstration of quality of entrepreneurship and enthusiasm in pursuing one’s curriculum, EPFL, Switzerland.

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