Research Scientist
Head of Hearing Cluster
Head of Psychophysics and Audiology

Tel. +43 1 51581-2514
Email: Bernhard.Laback(at)

Scientific IDs:
Orcid iD: 0000-0003-0929-6787
Scopus Author ID: 6506621502
ResearcherID: D-3043-2017

Academic background

Bernhard Laback first studied natural-sciences oriented (systematic) musicology with a focus on psychoacoustics at University of Vienna. In 2004 he graduated with his thesis: ‘The influence of the strings' spectrum on the radiated sound of the violin’. In parallel he studied sound engineering at the Institute of Electroacoustics and Electronic Music (Univ. of Music and Applied Arts, Vienna) which he completed successfully with Diploma in 2004. He then worked on his interdisciplinary PhD thesis at the University of Vienna, the Free University Hospital Amsterdam, and the Medical University of Vienna, titled "Music perception with sensorineural hearing impairment and applications for signal processing algorithms in hearing aids". He defended the thesis in 1999. 

Bernhard Laback received the DOC (doctoral) grant of the Austrian Academy of Sciences for his PhD work. Within the course of the PhD he worked at the Experimental Audiology Group of the Free University Medical Center, Amsterdam, local advisor: Dr. Niek Versfeld), which allowed him to enter the research field of hearing impairment. 

Back in Vienna, he started working at Acoustics Research Institute (ARI) in 1999. He built up a working group focusing on psychophysical studies with cochlear implant (CI), normal hearing (NH), and hearing-impaired (HI) listeners.

In 2011 Bernhard Laback was elected as Fellow of the Institute of Advanced Studies (Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg, HWK) in Delmenhorst, Germany. During a nine-month fellowship in 2012 he cooperated with the University of Oldenburg, Medical Physics Department (Prof. Birger Kollmeier). 

In 2013 Bernhard Laback habilitated in General or Experimental Psychology at the University of Vienna ("The Psychophysical Bases of Spatial Hearing in Acoustic and Electric Stimulation").

Bernhard Laback is principal investigator in current and past nationally and internationally funded research projects (see Projects).

Current research

Bernhard Laback is interested in various aspects of human auditory perception. One particular focus of his work is on perceptual deficits of listeners supplied with cochlear implants (CIs). He compares auditory performance between CI, NH, and partly also HI listeners, with the goals of (1) describing the nature of the perceptual deficit, (2) devising methods to compensate for perceptual deficits by means of hearing devices, and (3) developing and informing models of the normal auditory system. A focus of his work is on spatial hearing, both in the horizontal and vertical dimensions. The follwing highlights some of the projects:

In the Austrian-Science Fund (FWF) funded project CI-HRTF he and his colleagues studies the feasibility of localizing in vertical planes with CIs. 

In the internally funded project ITD Jitter he and his colleagues found that introducing interaurally coherent jitter in the stimulation timing enhances the sensitivity to interaural time differences (ITDs). This research resulted in a publication in PNAS and an international patent. 

In the NIH-funded project ITD PsyPhy, a cooperation with the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (Harvard Medical School, Boston), physiological studies in rabbits (PI: Bertrand Delgutte) are combined with human psychophysical studies (our lab) to explore new approaches for enhancing ITD cues in CI stimulation. Inspired by our jitter studies and subsequent physiological studies of the Boston group, we introduce short inter-stimulus intervals to enhance ITD cues at selected instances of amplitude modulated sounds. 

Together with colleagues from ARI and international cooperation partners from the LMA (CNRS, Marseille), he studies time-frequency masking effects and their application in perceptual audio coding (recent project: POTION).

Plasticity in auditory perception, particularly in spatial hearing, is also a topic of interest of Bernhard Laback. This resuled in a publication on the adaptation to frequency-warped HRTFs in in sound localization, a publication on the short-time effect of auditory feedback training with frequency-warped electrode mappings with CIs, and a master thesis (starting in Oct. 2016) on the long-time re-weighting of binaural cues (ITDs and interaural level differences, ILDs) based on visual feedback.    

In the FWF-funded project BiPhase, Bernhard Laback and his colleague Hisaaki Tabuchi study the feasibility of a method to measure the cochlear phase response that does not rely on cochlear compression and is thus suitable for application in listeners with cochlear hearing impairment.

As part of his HWK fellowship program, and in cooperation with the Oldenburg University (Mathias Dietz), Bernhard Laback is studyies temporal effects in ILD perception.

Bernhard Laback recently became interested in auditory and audio-visual priming effects. A cooperation with the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Vienna recently resulted in a publication in J Exp Psychol Learn Mem Cogn. A master thesis on this topic will start in Oct. 2016.

All these projects are done in cooperation with other ARI members and/or with national and international collaborators.

For more details about relevant projects, please see Projects.