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Dr Roy D Patterson

Our research focuses on the initial stages of auditory processing that convert a sound into the auditory image we perceive when presented with that sound, be it the word “leo”, the shriek of a saxophone or the hoot of an owl. The auditory image is the first representation of a sound of which we can be aware. We are trying to establish the neural representation of sounds as the appear in our auditory images, and where the processing takes place in the brain.
Dr Roy D Patterson

Head of the Centre for the Neural Basis of Hearing (retired)

Office Phone: +44 (0) 1223 333819

Research Interests

We are trying to understand how the ear and the brain construct the perceptions, or auditory images, that we hear when presented with the sounds of speech and music. When children and adults say the same words, the acoustic waves arriving at the ear are very different because of the difference in speaker size. Nevertheless, we hear the same speech message (the words). Speech recognition machines have great difficulty with this problem. The data from human listening experiments suggest that the ear and brain construct an internal representation of the speech that is “scale invariant,” that is, the same for people of all sizes. With colleagues in Japan, we have developed a mathematical transform to show how the cochlea and auditory neurons could make such a representation, and how the representation could assist in attempts to produce better speech recognition machines. With colleagues in the UK and Germany, we perform brain imaging experiments to establish where the different stages of the processing take place in the brain.


Prof T Griffiths, Institute of Neuroscience, Medical School, Newcastle University
Prof T Irino, Faculty of Systems Engineering, Wakayama University, Japan
Prof B Lütkenhöner, Münster University Hospital, Münster, Germany
Prof B Moore, Psychology Department, University of Cambridge, UK
Dr A Rupp, Department of Neurology, University of Heidelberg, Germany
Prof W Marslen-Wilson, Psychology Department, University of Cambridge, UK
Dr I Winter, PDN, University of Cambridge, UK


Part II. Module 6, Central Auditory Processing

Key Publications

Patterson RD, Irino T, (2014), Size matters in hearing: How the auditory system normalizes the sounds of speech and music for source size, Springer Handbook of Auditory Research, 50, 417-440

Griffiths TD, Kumar S, Sedley W, Nourski K, Kawasaki H, Oya H, Patterson RD, Brugge JF, Howard MA, (2010), Direct recordings of pitch responses from human auditory cortex, Current Biology, 20, 1128–1132

Turner RE, Walters TC, Monaghan JJM, Patterson RD, (2009), A statistical, formant-pattern model for segregating vowel type and vocal-tract length in developmental formant data, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 125.4, 2374–2386

Vestergaard MD, Fyson NRC, Patterson RD, (2009), The interaction of vocal characteristics and audibility in the recognition of concurrent syllables, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 125.2, 1114–1124

Smith DRR, Patterson RD, Turner R, Kawahara H, Irino T, (2005), The processing and perception of size information in speech sounds, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 117, 305-318

Krumbholz K, Patterson RD, Seither-Preisler A, Lammertmann C, Lütkenhöner B, (2003), Neuromagnetic evidence for a pitch processing centre in Heschl's gyrus, Cerebral Cortex, 13 765-772

Warren JD, Uppenkamp S, Patterson RD, Griffiths TD, (2003), Separating pitch chroma and pitch height in the human brain, Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. , Vol. 100, No. 17. 10038-10042

Patterson RD, Uppenkamp S, Johnsrude I, Griffiths TD, (2002), The processing of temporal pitch and melody information in auditory cortex, Neuron, 36 767-776

Griffiths TD, Uppenkamp S, Johnsrude I, Josephs O, Patterson RD, (2001), Encoding of temporal regularity in the human brainstem, Nature Neuroscience, 4 633-637

Pressnitzer D, Patterson RD, Krumbholz K, (2001), The lower limit of melodic pitch, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 109 2074-2084

Irino T, Patterson RD, (1997), A time-domain. level-dependent auditory filter: the gammachirp, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 101, 412-419

Patterson RD, Allerhand M, Giguere C, (1995), Time-domain modelling of peripheral auditory processing: A modular architecture and a software platform, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 98, 1890-1894

Above: Brain Activation for a sequence noise bursts (blue), a sequence of tones with fixed pitch (red) and a sequence with varying pitch (green & cyan). The patch with the white highlight shows the position of Heschl’s gyrus in auditory cortex. The position and orientation of the sections is illustrated in the bottom panels of the figure.

Above: The progression of speech processing down the superior temporal sulcus towards the temporal pole in the time range 210-330 ms after the presentation of a word. There is substantial processing in both hemishperes with that in the right hemisphere preceeding that in the left hemisphere by about 80 ms.