Associated Research Thrust:
Josh McDermott obtained his PhD from MIT in 2006 and returned in January 2013 as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, moving from Oxford University, where he was a visiting scientist during 2012. Prior to that, he was a research associate at New York University (2009-2012) and a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Minnesota (2007-2008). Dr. McDermott is the recipient of a Marshall Scholarship, a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award, and an NSF CAREER Award.
Dr. McDermott studies sound and hearing using tools from experimental psychology, engineering, and neuroscience. He seeks to understand how humans derive information from sound, and in particular how they succeed in real-world conditions that cause even the most powerful state-of-the-art computer algorithms to fail, for instance in recognizing speech amid background noise. He aims to use the contrast between biological and machine hearing systems to reveal the workings of biological hearing, to improve prosthetic devices for aiding those with hearing impairment, and to design better computer algorithms for analyzing sound. Research in his lab will explore how humans recognize real-world sound sources, segregate particular sounds from the mixture that enters the ear (the cocktail party problem), and remember and/or attend to particular sounds of interest. He also studies music perception and cognition.