Avinash D. Singh Bala

228B Huestis Hall, Institute of Neuroscience

University of Oregon, Eugene, Oregon 97403

avinash( at )uoregon(d o t)edu


What we attend to is determined by the content - and context - of the information we receive. Unexpected events in our environment attract our attention even when we are completely focused on something else. This ability to shift our focus to new events is called orienting, and is enabled by our ability to ignore, or habituate to, everything that we have already experienced. For example, when we move to a new room, we wonder if we can ever sleep, but a week later, the strange noises and creaks are forgotten.

Overt orienting - moving our head and eyes to the source of a sudden sound - is accompanied by changes in heart rate, skin conductance, EEG activity, and pupil size. first discovered the novelty-induced pupil dilation response (PDR) in the barn owl, and have used it to track orienting and habituation. The PDR allows us to probe our ability to detect and discriminate between sound stimuli, allowing use to study the barn owl's spatial hearing, and the human ability to detect quiet sounds.


The best use of an involuntary response, though, may be to test hearing in babies, who can't otherwise tell us whether or not they heard a sound.Thus, we are now validating the PDR as a test of infant hearing, an objective, fast assay that does not require sedation or restraint. To this end, our company, Perceptivo LLC, is working to translate our innovation from basic research to clinical tool, funded by grants from the National Institutes of  Health, the Murdock Foundation, and the VP Research and Innovation, UO, has given us seed money for preliminary research, enabling progress towards funding from external sources.


I am the Faculty Fellow for Carson Hall, University of Oregon. Residents can meet me during office hours - virtually or individually in person.  Or email me: I'm always happy to meet Carson people!