DPhil, MSc, BSc
Kerry Walker completed her undergraduate studies in her native Newfoundland (BSc hon., Memorial University), an MSc in Nova Scotia (Dalhousie University), and then her doctoral degree at Brasenose College, Oxford (DPhil, University of Oxford). She worked as a Postdoctoral Researcher for Prof Andrew King in the Auditory Neuroscience Group for 3 years. She then started an independent research lab as an DPAG Early Career Research Fellow, and she is now a University Research Lecturer.
Her group's research examines the brain processes that allow humans and other animals to understand sounds, particularly communication calls. It aims to identify the spiking events in auditory cortical neurons that form the brain's representations of various features of sounds. These features include: "pitch", which is the sound's tonal quality; the location of the sound source in space; the spectral characteristics we use to identify the sound source (e.g. a violin versus a piano); and the temporal properties of the sound, such as rhythm.
The Walker group uses range of techniques to understand neural processing across multiple levels of the auditory system. The precise spiking responses of neurons are measured extracellularly in anaesthetised and awake, behaving animals. The responses of large populations of neurons are visualized using in vivo 2-photon calcium imaging. Psychophysical studies are used to examine and compare the listening capabilities of humans and animals. Finally, computational models of the auditory system are used to test hypotheses and make predictions about how we hear.
This research is funded by the BBSRC, Action on Hearing Loss, and DPAG.
Kerry is also a Research Associate of St. Catherine's College, where she served as Director of Studies for Biomedical Sciences for 6 years. She is currently course organizer for the Auditory Neuroscience component of Biomedical Sciences, and lectures undergraduate and MSc students in various Neuroscience topics.