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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

Chris leads the UK Acoustics Network Special Interest Group in Hearing  (, and runs the Summer Seminars in Hearing.

Summer Seminars in Hearing (SSH 2020)

The UK Acoustics Network (UKAN) and “Basic Auditory Science” (BAS; the largest annual UK meeting of hearing researchers) held a series of on-line seminars over the summer of 2020, to facilitate communication and discussion amongst the UK Hearing Acoustics community.

Are there any more seminars?

The seminar series has now finished - there will be news of the replacement seminar series soon.

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.

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 will explore 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.

More details can be found at:

The deadline for abstracts is 8th Jan 2021. Submission is via the link above.

We will be seeking a balanced representation of topics across all of acoustics, including (but not limited to):

  • Aeroacoustics
  • Ultrasonics,
  • Bon-destructive evaluation,
  • Bioacoustics,
  • Biomedical acoustics,
  • Hearing/cognition/communication,
  • Noise/soundscapes/room acoustics,
  • Metamaterials,
  • Mathematical/computational acoustics,
  • Underwater acoustics,
  • Vibroacoustics.