Vanessa L. Frei

LIFE Zurich

LIFE Fellow since 2022, University of Zurich

I completed my bachelor's and master's degree at the University of Zurich in the field of psychology with a focus on cognitive neuroscience. As part of my master's thesis, I investigated bodily plasticity in the form of embodiment and which socio-cognitive attitudes are associated with altered bodily states and whether they can be influenced by them. I mainly worked with virtual body illusions and electroencephalography. Since June 2021, I am a PhD student in the Computational Neuroscience of Speech & Hearing group at the Department of Computational Linguistics. My research currently focuses on the relationship between hearing loss and dementia with the goal of gaining a better understanding of the underlying neural changes in order to develop potential preventive interventions and training in dementia research.
Specifically, I would like to investigate whether natural and realistic immersion of audio-cognitive training supports neural, as well as subjectively experienced, speech processing in older adults with hearing impairment, and whether there is evidence of transfer to everyday life. Age-related hearing loss has enormous potential as a modifiable risk factor for dementia, although it is unclear whether traditional therapies (e.g., hearing aids) are sufficient or whether individual neural processing of language can be improved through realistic and engaging training. It is particularly important to me that my work goes beyond basic research and potentially promotes applications in everyday life in the future (e.g., training games, mobile apps, etc.).

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