Trevor Agus

Postal address:
The Sonic Arts Research Centre
Queen's University

Tel: +44 (0)28 9097 4445
Email: t.agus (at) qub (dot) ac (dot) uk

Photo of me

New!Now based at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen's University, Belfast (as of August 2013). Business as usual

Research Interests

I research how we learn to recognise sounds. I hope to uncover the processes by which we can identify sounds and categories of sounds with such apparent ease. Currently, I am focusing on the learning of noises (which all sound just like a hiss initially), using psychoacoustical techniques (measuring listeners' ability to reliably report perceptual aspects the sounds). I have also been working on reaction times to natural sounds, showing that we are particularly fast to selectively respond to the human voice. This work has been carried out with Daniel Pressnitzer, in collaboration with Laurent Demany and Simon Thorpe.

I also collaborate on a wide range of topics, including dyslexia (Franck Ramus), informational masking (Axelle Calcus), recognition of short sounds (Clara Suied), fMRI of learnt sounds (Tim Griffiths and Sukhbinder Kumar), fMRI of the human voice (Pascal Belin), native-language effects (Anjali Bhatara), and sleep (Sid Kouider).

Previously, I researched elderly listeners' ability to understand one talker while ignoring a competing talker. In short, it seems like the extra difficulties of elderly listeners stemmed from ear-related issues ("energetic masking") and not so much central, cognitive processes ("informational masking"). It was possible to separate these perceptual components using carefully specified combinations of speech and noise. This research was carried out at the Institute of Hearing Research Scottish Section under the supervision of Michael Akeroyd, in conjunction with the University of Strathclyde Psychology department. For a copy of my PhD thesis, please contact me at t.agus (at) qub (dot) ac (dot) uk.


{Kumar, S. and Bonnici, H.M.}, Teki, S., Agus, T.R., Pressnitzer, D., Maguire, E.A., and Griffiths, T.D. (under revision). A brain basis for memories of acoustic patterns.

Agus, T.R., Carrión-Castillo, A., Pressnitzer, D., and Ramus, F. (in press). Perceptual learning of acoustic noise by dyslexic individuals.

Pressnitzer, D., Agus, T.R., and Suied C. (2013). Acoustic timbre recognition. In: Jaeger D., Jung R. (Ed.) Encyclopedia of Computational Neuroscience: Springer Reference. Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg, 2013.

Suied, C., Agus, T.R., Thorpe, S.J., Mesgarani, N., and Pressnitzer, D. (2014). Auditory gist: Recognition of very short sounds from timbre cues. Journal of the Acoustical Society America. DOI:

Pressnitzer, D., Agus, T.R., and Suied, C. (2013). La reconnaissance du timbre des sons (The recognition of auditory timbre), Acoustique & Technique.
, T.R. and Pressnitzer, D. (2013). The detection of repetitions in noise before and after perceptual learning. Journal of the Acoustical Society America 134(1), 464-473. DOI: 10.1121/1.4807641

Agus, T.R., Suied, C., Thorpe, S.J., and Pressnitzer, D. (2012). Fast recognition of musical sounds based on timbre. Journal of the Acoustical Society America 131(5), 4124-4133. DOI: 10.1121/1.3701865

Ardoint, M., Agus, T.R., Sheft, S., and Lorenzi, C. (2011). Importance of temporal-envelope cues in different spectral regions. Journal of the Acoustical Society America 130(2), EL115–EL121. DOI: 10.1121/1.3602462

Agus, T.R., Thorpe, S.J., and Pressnitzer, D. (2010) Rapid formation of robust auditory memories: Insights from noise. Neuron 66:610-618. DOI:10.1016/j.neuron.2010.04.014 [Supplemental information]

Agus, T.R., and Akeroyd, M.A. (2009). Informational masking in young and elderly listeners for speech masked by simultaneous speech and noise. Journal of the Acoustical Society America 126(4), 1926-1940. DOI: 10.1121/1.3205403

Agus, T.R., and Akeroyd, M.A. (2009). An analysis of the masking of speech by competing speech using self-report data (L). Journal of the Acoustical Society America 125(1), 23-26. DOI: 10.1121/1.3025915

Conference proceedings

Suied, C., Agus, T.R., Thorpe, S.J., and Pressnitzer, D. (2013). Processing of Short Auditory Stimuli: The Rapid Audio Sequential Presentation Paradigm (RASP). In: 16th International Symposium on Hearing (July 2012) (B.C.J. Moore et al., eds). Cambridge, UK: Springer-Verlag.

Slaney, M., Agus, T.R., Lui, S.-C., Kaye, M., Elhilali, M. (2012). A model of attention-driven scene analysis. IEEE International Conference on Acoustics, Speech, and Signal-Processing. Kyoto, Japan.

Agus, T.R., Suied, C., Thorpe, S.J., and Pressnitzer, D. (2010). Characteristics of human voice processing. IEEE International Symposium on Circuits and Systems (May-June 2010). Paris.

Agus, T.R., Beauvais, M., Thorpe, S.J., and Pressnitzer, D. (2009). The implicit learning of noise: Behavioral data and computational models. In: 15th International Symposium on Hearing (June 2009) (Lopez-Poveda, E.A., Palmer, A.R., Meddis, R., eds). Salamanca, Spain: Springer-Verlag.