We are interested in basic aspects of hearing, from perception to receptor physiology. We explore mechanisms underlying sound detection and discrimination. We are also interested in developing suitable measures of accuracy and precision for discrimination and matching tasks, because existing textbook measures often fail to separate the concepts of accuracy and precision, such as when stimulus parameters can attain only positive real values. These insights have widespread implications for many fields.

We also analyze the timing of auditory-nerve-fiber spikes, the first possible precursors of the ‘sensory events’ involved in perceptual detection and discrimination. We developed the first model to account for all major aspects of spike timing in mammalian ANFs during spontaneous activity. The model will help better understand spike timing during sound-driven activity, including phase locking.

  • Head


    Peter Heil studied biology at the Technical University Darmstadt. 1983 Diploma; 1989 Ph.D.; 1993 Habilitation.

    Extended research visits at Ponce School of Medicine, Puerto Rico, USA; Department of Zoology, Tel-Aviv University, Tel-Aviv, ISRAEL; Low Temperature Laboratory, Helsinki University of Technology, FINLAND; Department of Psychology, Monash University, AUSTRALIA.

    1990-1991: Postdoc with Dexter R.F. Irvine, Department of Psychology, Monash University, AUSTRALIA (Feodor-Lynen-Scholarship, Alexander-von-Humboldt Foundation);

    1995-1998: Principal Investigator in the Department of Psychology, Monash University, AUSTRALIA (NH&MRC Australia).

    1998-present: Leibniz Institute for Neurobiology Magdeburg, Germany. 2002-present: Ombudsman at LIN.

    2016-present: Contributing Member of Faculty1000. Main research interest: hearing. Currently 75 papers in peer-reviewed journals, eight book chapters.


  • Members


    Prof. Dr. Peter Heil+49-391-6263-94441peter.heil@lin-magdeburg.de
    PhD student  
    Adam J. Peterson+49-391-6263-94381adam.peterson@lin-magdeburg.de
    Technical staff member  
    Gabriele Schöps+49-391-6263-95461gabriele.schoeps@lin-magdeburg.de
    Dr. Björn Friedrich  
  • Projects


    • Modeling spontaneous activity of auditory-nerve fibers
    • Modeling phase locking of auditory-nerve fibers
    • Measurements and modeling of human detection thresholds for sounds in quiet (including single monaural tones, dichotic and diotic tones, tone sequences, and tone complexes)
    • Measurements and modeling of human monaural and interaural level difference thresholds
    • Measurements and modeling of simple reaction times of humans to tones of various envelopes and levels
  • Current Third Party Funds

    Current Third Party Funds

    Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft
    “Mechanisms of phase-locking of auditory-nerve fibers: a modelling approach”


  • Publications



    Peterson AJ, Heil P. 2019. Phase Locking of Auditory-Nerve Fibers Reveals Stereotyped Distortions and an Exponential Transfer Function with a Level-Dependent Slope. Journal of Neuroscience. 39(21):4077-4099. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1801-18.2019

    Huang Y, Heil P, Brosch M. 2019. Associations between sounds and actions in early auditory cortex of nonhuman primates. eLife. 8. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.43281



    Peterson AJ, Huet A, Bourien J, Puel JL, Heil P. 2018. Recovery of auditory-nerve-fiber spike amplitude under natural excitation conditions. Hearing Research. 370:248-263. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2018.08.007

    Peterson AJ, Heil P. 2018. A simple model of the inner-hair-cell ribbon synapse accounts for mammalian auditory-nerve-fiber spontaneous spike times. Hearing Research. 363:1-27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2017.09.005



    Heil P, Matysiak A. 2017. Absolute auditory threshold: Testing the absolute. European Journal of Neuroscience. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.13765

    Heil P, Matysiak A, Neubauer H. 2017. A probabilistic Poisson-based model accounts for an extensive set of absolute auditory threshold measurements. Hearing Research. 353:135-161. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2017.06.011

    Friedrich B, Heil P. 2017. Onset-duration matching of acoustic stimuli revisited: Conventional arithmetic vs. proposed geometric measures of accuracy and precision. Frontiers in Psychology. 7(JAN). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2016.02013

    Heil P, Peterson AJ. 2017. Spike timing in auditory-nerve fibers during spontaneous activity and phase locking. Synapse. 71(1):5-36. https://doi.org/10.1002/syn.21925



    Huang Y, Matysiak A, Heil P, König R, Brosch M. 2016. Persistent neural activity in auditory cortex is related to auditory working memory in humans and nonhuman primates. eLife. 5(JULY). https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.15441



    Heil P, Peterson AJ. 2015. Basic response properties of auditory nerve fibers: a review. Cell and Tissue Research. 361(1):129-158. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00441-015-2177-9

    Budinger E, Brechmann A, Brosch M, Heil P, König R, Ohl FW, Scheich H. 2015. Auditory cortex 2014 - towards a synthesis of human and animal research. European Journal of Neuroscience. 41(5):515-517. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.12832

    König R, Matysiak A, Kordecki W, Sieluzycki C, Zacharias N, Heil P. 2015. Averaging auditory evoked magnetoencephalographic and electroencephalographic responses: A critical discussion. European Journal of Neuroscience. 41(5):631-640. https://doi.org/10.1111/ejn.12833

    Deike S, Heil P, Böckmann-Barthel M, Brechmann A. 2015. Decision making and ambiguity in auditory stream segregation. Frontiers in Neuroscience. 9(JUL). https://doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2015.00266



    Peterson AJ, Irvine DRF, Heil P. 2014. A model of synaptic vesicle-pool depletion and replenishment can account for the interspike interval distributions and nonrenewal properties of spontaneous spike trains of auditory-nerve fibers. Journal of Neuroscience. 34(45):15097-15109. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0903-14.2014

    Heil P. 2014. Auditory Nerve Response, Afferent Signals. in Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience. New York: Springer. S. 1-3. https://doi.org/I 10.1007/978-1-4614-7320-6_424-6

    Heil P. 2014. Towards a unifying basis of auditory thresholds: Binaural summation. JARO - Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. 15(2):219-234. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10162-013-0432-x



    Matysiak A, Kordecki W, Sieluzycki C, Zacharias N, Heil P, König R. 2013. Variance stabilization for computing and comparing grand mean waveforms in MEG and EEG. Psychophysiology. 50(7):627-639. https://doi.org/10.1111/psyp.12047

    Pohl NU, Slabbekoorn H, Neubauer H, Heil P, Klump GM, Langemann U. 2013. Why longer song elements are easier to detect: Threshold level-duration functions in the Great Tit and comparison with human data. Journal of Comparative Physiology A: Neuroethology, Sensory, Neural, and Behavioral Physiology. 199(3):239-252. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00359-012-0789-z

    Heil P, Verhey JL, Zoefel B. 2013. Modelling detection thresholds for sounds repeated at different delays. Hearing Research. 296:83-95. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2012.12.002

    Heil P, Neubauer H, Tetschke M, Irvine DRF. 2013. A probabilistic model of absolute auditory thresholds and its possible physiological basis. in Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. S. 21-29. (Advances in experimental medicine and biology). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-1590-9_3

    Zoefel B, Heil P. 2013. Detection of near-threshold sounds is independent of eeg phase in common frequency bands. Frontiers in Psychology. 4(MAY). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00262



    Zacharias N, König R, Heil P. 2012. Stimulation-history effects on the M100 revealed by its differential dependence on the stimulus onset interval. Psychophysiology. 49(7):909-919. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2012.01370.x

    Budinger E, Heil P. 2012. Anatomy of the auditory cortex. in Listening to Speech: An Auditory Perspective. Taylor & Francis Group. S. 91-113. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203933107

    Deike S, Heil P, Böckmann-Barthel M, Brechmann A. 2012. The build-up of auditory stream segregation: A different perspective. Frontiers in Psychology. 3(OCT). https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00461



    Heil P, Neubauer H, Irvine DRF. 2011. An improved model for the rate-level functions of auditory-nerve fibers. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(43):15424-15437. https://doi.org/10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1638-11.2011

    Zacharias N, Sieluzycki C, Kordecki W, König R, Heil P. 2011. The M100 component of evoked magnetic fields differs by scaling factors: Implications for signal averaging. Psychophysiology. 48(8):1069-1082. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1469-8986.2011.01183.x

    Brechmann A, Brosch M, Budinger E, Heil P, König R, Ohl F, Scheich H. 2011. Auditory cortex - Current concepts in human and animal research. Hearing Research. 271(1-2):1-2. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2010.10.016



    Heil P, Neubauer H, Irvine DRF. 2010. A new model for the shapes of rate-level functions of auditory-nerve fibers. in Proceedings of the 20th International Congress on Acoustics. S. 3156-3163.

    Zacharias N, Sieluzycki C, Matysiak MA, König R, Heil P. 2010. Relevant observations for averaging stimulus evoked magnetic fields across trials and across subjects. in 17th International Conference on Biomagnetism Advances in Biomagnetism. S. 179-182. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-12197-5_39

    Heil P, Neubauer H. 2010. Summing across different active zones can explain the quasi-linear Ca 2+-dependencies of exocytosis by receptor cells. Frontiers in Synaptic Neuroscience. 2 Article 148(NOV):1-15. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsyn.2010.00148

  • Teaching


    Prof. Dr. Peter Heil is involved in the education of students of the Master's program “Integrative Neuroscience” at OVGU Magdeburg.



Share this page: