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Christian Sumner

Associate Professor

School of Social Sciences


Chris Sumner is an Associate Professor of Auditory Neuroscience in the Department of Psychology. He has a background in engineering and has studied various aspects of how we hear.

Career overview

Chris has a PhD in Computer Science from Imperial College London, where he first became interested in how the brain processes sound. He conducted his postdoctoral research in The University of Essex and the University of Michigan. In 2004 he joined the MRC Institute of Hearing Research where he led a program of research into the neural correlates of auditory perception and the underlying computations. He joined NTU in 2019.

Research areas

Chris’ research focuses on understanding the neural computation underlying how we hear. He does this with a variety of methods, but often by building computer models (simulations) of neurons, neural systems, and machine learning models, with the aim of relating processing by single neurons to our perception of sound. He believes that this understanding is critical in order to tackle the problems associated with hearing loss.

Recent research interests include:

  • How the neural coding of sound is altered by hearing loss and how this might affect speech recognition in complex environments (e.g. cocktail parties).
  • How low-level sensory processing influences the coding and recognition of complex acoustic signals such as (but not limited to) speech.
  • The mechanisms underlying resolution of sound frequency in the auditory system, from the cochlea to the cortex, and perception.
  • Neural adaptation in the auditory system: mechanisms and perceptual consequences.
  • Audiovisual integration of speech.
  • Neural processing of acoustic cues for sound localisation.
  • Modelling the response of auditory nerve to cochlear implant electrical stimulation.

External activity

Studentships at NTU Hearing

Applications are open for this years intake of PhD students. The Hearing Group and NTU have 3 projects advertised. However, please do contact us (me if you like) to discuss how to apply for other projects within our areas of interest (check out above or the pages of other staff members).

DEADLINE:  12th January 2023.

Understanding how individual differences in hearing impairment and age impact on audiovisual speech perception. | Nottingham Trent University

Expecting Thunderclaps then Lightning Strikes: How do we integrate sound and light in a complex world? | Nottingham Trent University

Hearing words in a sea of noise: Does musical training and second language learning help? | Nottingham Trent University

Providing multisensory support to improve older adults’ cognitive abilities | Nottingham Trent University

On-line Audiovisual Experiments - we are recruiting!

It is well established that seeing the face of a talker helps us to understand what they are saying. We all benefit from this, even if we are not aware of it. This is particularly important in noisy environments, and if you have hearing problems.

Although, the benefits of seeing a talker are well established, there are many things we do not know about how this "integration" of information from different senses operates. We are currently running a series of experiments investigating this further.

Please watch this space for links to experiments. Experiments will bring with credits for NTU students, and cash vouchers for other participants.

Calling experienced hearing researchers: Take part in the International Priorities in Hearing 

Are you a hearing researcher? Tell us what you think the big issues are in your field. A initiative of the UK Acoustics Network Hearing Special Interest Group.

For more information:

Frontiers for Young Minds Collection: A World of Sound

To celebrate the International Year of Sound , Chris and several other UKAN members are bringing together a collection of articles about sound, aimed at young people, to appear in the journal Frontiers for Young Minds.  This collection explores the many faceted science of sound: how humankind and other animals perceive it, its many uses, and the problems it can bring to us and the environment.

You can find the collection here:

UK Acoustics Network

The UK Acoustics Network is an EPSRC funded "Network Plus". It brings together >1000 academics and professionals from the acoustics related research and industry, for networking, collaboration and horizon scanning. The aim is to support and grow UK acoustics.

Chris leads the UK Acoustics Network Special Interest Group in Hearing  (

UKAN Basic Acoustic Science Meeting

September 2023. Imperila College London.

The re-boot of the Basic Auditory Science Meeting will be held at Imperial College in London. Watch out for news...

Sung Tieu - In Cold Print

A team of scientists from NTU and led by Chris worked with artist Sung Tieu, to help her create stunning images of her brain, which were laser etched on stainless steel mirrors.