Tobias Overath

Tobias Overath

Assistant Professor of Psychology and Neruoscience

External Address: 
308 Research Drive, LSRC Room B248a, Duke University, Box 90999, Durham, NC 27708
Internal Office Address: 
90999, Durham, NC 27708


Research in our lab investigates how sound is processed in the human brain. More specifically, we study the acoustic building blocks that must be assembled in complex listening situations, such as when we engage in a conversation or listen to a symphony. One branch of our research program centers on the neural representation of fundamental acoustic parameters, e.g. pitch and timbre, and the neural mechanisms for detecting meaningful acoustic changes of such parameters within an auditory scene. A second branch of our research investigates auditory perception at a linguistic level and addresses the transformation from speech-specific acoustic analysis to speech-specific linguistic analysis, with an emphasis on temporal integration constants. We employ a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging methods (fMRI, EEG) to elucidate the underlying neural processes in human auditory cortex with high spatial and temporal precision.

Education & Training

  • Ph.D., University College London (United Kingdom) 2009

  • M.S., Humboldt University of Berlin (Germany) 2004

Selected Grants

Otolaryngology Surgeon- Scientist career Path (OSSP) program awarded by National Institutes of Health (Mentor). 2022 to 2027

A High-Performance 3T MRI for Brain Imaging awarded by National Institutes of Health (Minor User). 2021 to 2022

Cortical tracking of speech-specific temporal structure in familiar vs. foreign awarded by National Institutes of Health (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2022

Optimizing cochlear implant sound processor configurations via neural response properties to improve speech comprehension awarded by American Hearing Research Foundation (Principal Investigator). 2018 to 2019

Kim, Seung-Goo, et al. “MEG correlates of temporal regularity relevant to pitch perception in human auditory cortex.Neuroimage, vol. 249, Apr. 2022, p. 118879. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2022.118879. Full Text

Dheerendra, Pradeep, et al. “Dynamics underlying auditory-object-boundary detection in primary auditory cortex.The European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 54, no. 9, Nov. 2021, pp. 7274–88. Epmc, doi:10.1111/ejn.15471. Full Text

Overath, Tobias, and Joon H. Paik. “From acoustic to linguistic analysis of temporal speech structure: Acousto-linguistic transformation during speech perception using speech quilts.Neuroimage, vol. 235, July 2021, p. 117887. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2021.117887. Full Text

Leahy, Jasmine, et al. “An Analytical Framework of Tonal and Rhythmic Hierarchy in Natural Music Using the Multivariate Temporal Response Function.Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol. 15, Jan. 2021, p. 665767. Epmc, doi:10.3389/fnins.2021.665767. Full Text

Kim, Seung-Goo, et al. “Modulation change detection in human auditory cortex: Evidence for asymmetric, non-linear edge detection.The European Journal of Neuroscience, vol. 52, no. 2, July 2020, pp. 2889–904. Epmc, doi:10.1111/ejn.14707. Full Text

Kikuchi, Yukiko, et al. “The distribution and nature of responses to broadband sounds associated with pitch in the macaque auditory cortex.Cortex; a Journal Devoted to the Study of the Nervous System and Behavior, vol. 120, Nov. 2019, pp. 340–52. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.cortex.2019.07.005. Full Text

Overath, Tobias, and Jackson C. Lee. “The neural processing of phonemes is shaped by linguistic analysis.” Proceedings of the International Symposium on Auditory and Audiological Research, edited by Sébastien Santurette et al., vol. 6, Nov. 2018, pp. 107–16. Open Access Copy

Overath, Tobias, et al. “The cortical analysis of speech-specific temporal structure revealed by responses to sound quilts.Nature Neuroscience, vol. 18, no. 6, June 2015, pp. 903–11. Epmc, doi:10.1038/nn.4021. Full Text

Overath, Tobias, et al. “Sensitivity to temporal modulation rate and spectral bandwidth in the human auditory system: fMRI evidence.Journal of Neurophysiology, vol. 107, no. 8, Apr. 2012, pp. 2042–56. Epmc, doi:10.1152/jn.00308.2011. Full Text

Sedley, William, et al. “Gamma band pitch responses in human auditory cortex measured with magnetoencephalography.Neuroimage, vol. 59, no. 2, Jan. 2012, pp. 1904–11. Epmc, doi:10.1016/j.neuroimage.2011.08.098. Full Text


Sedley, W., et al. “BRAIN NETWORK ACTIVITY SUBSERVING TINNITUS AND NORMAL PERCEPTION.” European Journal of Neurology, vol. 18, WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2011, pp. 296–296.