Prof.Gao obtained her M.S.from East China Normal Universitydegree(2004) and her Ph.D.from Chinese Academy of Sciences(2009).She went on with her further education in Department of Rehabilitation Science of Hong Kong Polytechnic University（2009-2011）and Department of Biomedical Engineering of Johns Hopkins University school of medicine（2011-2016）as a Postdoctoral Fellow.Her research interests include Perception and cortical representation of complex sounds,Auditory perception in different brain state (sleep, awake, passive VS active listening),Neural mechanisms underlying complex sound processing,Neural mechanisms underlying sound contextual modulation,Vocal communication,The auditory neural plasticity and habitation,The thalamocortical circuitry.In 2010,She won the Travel Award on the 32th Annual Meeting of the Japan Neuroscience Society，and received the prize of “Tomorrow’s Star” Award on GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) R&D China in the same year,in 2017,she won the W. Barry Wood, Jr. Research Award in Johns Hopkins University school of medicine.
1. Temporal processing in thalamocortical circuitry
How the brain processes temporal information embedded in sound remains a core question in auditory research. Temporal information over a wide range of time scales conveys perceptually important information. The high frequency component determines the fine temporal structures of sound, such as pitch and roughness. The low frequency modulation in millisecond scale determines the coarse temporal structure of sound, which is important for speech perception and melody recognition. The representation of such temporal structure undergoes a transformation between the auditory periphery and auditory cortex. Our laboratory is interested in understanding how the auditory system processes temporal information to form perceptual representations of biological important sounds and the underlying neural and circuit mechanisms.
2. Sound contextual and brain-state modulations on sound perception
The natural acoustic environment is composed of sounds from anywhere at any time. Humans and animals have the ability to perceive a particular sound while filtering out other sounds and background noise in the environment, as exemplified in the cocktail party effect. And also, in other cases, a sound cannot be unambiguously identified without reference to its stimulus context, such as consonant–vowel combinations in speech. Extracellular recording studies have demonstrated long-lasting contextual modulations (> 500 ms) in spiking activity in the auditory cortex of many species. However, mechanisms for the contextual modulations in auditory cortex are largely unknown. Our laboratory is interested in understanding modulations of attention and brain-state on auditory perception and sound contextual processing.
3. Subcortical processing of complex sounds and harmonocity
We live in an acoustic environment full of harmonic sounds, a component frequency of which is an integer multiple of a fundamental frequency. Many of natural and man-made sounds, such as species-specific animal vocalizations, human speech, and sounds from many musical instruments, contain rich harmonic structures. Currently, it is still largely unknown what the physiological, anatomical and developmental bases of harmonocity are across mammalian species, especially in subcortical regions. Our laboratory is interested in understanding the neural bases for processing of complex sounds and harmonocity in subcortical regions.