Christian Brodbeck

Christian Brodbeck

Assistant Professor

McMaster University


I study the neural basis of language and speech processing. When humans listen to speech, the acoustic signal that enters the ears is a complex pattern of air pressure fluctuations. Yet, listeners intuitively and almost instantaneously experience meaning in these sounds. My research focuses on the transformations that happen in the brain to enable this.

The goal of my research is to understand and measure how the brain processes speech. I am particularly interested in how people comprehend speech in realistic settings, including continuous, meaningful speech, and speech in noisy backgrounds. For this I primarily work with electrophysiological brain signals ( MEG & EEG) and computational models. M/EEG allow us to measure brain activity with millisecond resolution, required for capturing brain responses to rapidly evolving speech signals. Computational models of speech recognition allow us to better understand the transformations necessary for recognizing speech, and they also allow us to make quantitative predictions for brain activity.

This work lays the foundations for better understanding how speech perception is affected in different settings and populations. For example, how does speech processing change with age? How is it affected by a hearing impairment? And how can this guide us to better address challenges faced by these populations.

I use Python to develop tools to make this research possible, and many of those tools are available in the open source libraries MNE-Python and Eelbrain. For an introduction to analyzing M/EEG responses in experiments with continuous designs, such as audiobook listening or movie watching, see our recent eLife paper.


  • Cognitive neuroscience of language and speech perception
  • Computational models and machine learning


  • PhD in Psychology, Cognition and Perception, 2016

    New York University

  • Licentiate (Master of Science) in Neuropsychology, 2010

    University of Zurich

Recent Publications

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(2023). Cortical tracking of continuous speech under bimodal divided attention. Neurobiology of Language.


(2022). Auditory Word Comprehension is Less Incremental in Isolated Words. Neurobiology of Language.


(2022). Examining the context benefit in older adults: A combined behavioral-electrophysiologic word identification study. Neuropsychologia.


(2022). Parallel processing in speech perception with local and global representations of linguistic context. eLife.


(2022). Cortical tracking of voice pitch in the presence of multiple speakers depends on selective attention. Frontiers in Neuroscience.




Assistant Professor

McMaster University, Department of Computing and Software

Nov 2023 – Present Hamilton, Ontario

Assistant Research Professor

University of Connecticut, Department of Psychological Sciences

Aug 2020 – Nov 2023 Storrs, Connecticut


University of Maryland, Institute for Systems Research

Jun 2016 – Aug 2020 College Park, Maryland
Research on the neural basis of continuous speech perception with Jonathan Simon.

Ph.D. in Psychology

New York University, Department of Psychology

Sep 2011 – May 2016 New York
Research on the neural basis of reference resolution with Liina Pylkkänen.

Licentiate in Psychology

University of Zurich, Department of Psychology

Mar 2003 – Nov 2010 Zurich