I’m a postdoctoral researcher now working at the Zuckerman Institute of Brain Research at Columbia University. I’m broadly interested in the neural mechanisms that underlie human perception of complex sounds, like speech and music. Humans are remarkably adept at inferring abstract properties (e.g. words, melodies) from the pressure wave that reaches the ear. Auditory cortex is critical to this process, but its basic organization and functional properties remain poorly understood. My research applies computational techniques to study human cortical responses to natural sounds. My prior work has provided evidence that there are distinct neural populations selectively responsive to music, speech, and pitch in human auditory cortex. A central goal of my research is to investigate how music, speech and other environmental sounds are coded in each of these populations. I did my doctoral work with Josh McDermott and Nancy Kanwisher at MIT.

My research has been featured in a couple of NYT articles, by Natalie Angier:

New Ways Into the Brain’s ‘Music Room’

Lending Her Ears to an MIT Experiment

E-mail me (svnh@mit.edu) if you have any questions, or are interested in learning more about my research.