Dr Andrew Kolarik

Research Fellow, Vision and Eye Research Institute (VERI)

Faculty:Faculty of Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care

School:Medicine

Location: Chelmsford

Areas of Expertise: Vision and eye research

Andrew’s research investigates how visual loss affects the ability to use sound to perceive the world, focusing on human auditory distance perception and how echolocation and sensory substitution can be used to guide navigation.

  • https://www.neuroscience.cam.ac.uk/directory/profile.php?ak771

Background

Andrew is a Psychology researcher with expertise regarding auditory and visual sensory processes. Andrew’s PhD at Cardiff University investigated the psychology of hearing, which involved measuring and modelling binaural temporal windows and auditory filters. His previous posts have included a Research Associate position in auditory perception at Cambridge University, investigating how spatial awareness can be enhanced among hearing aid users and how vision loss affects auditory perception. Andrew also held a Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at The Centre for the Study of the Senses (CenSes) at the Institute of Philosophy at University of London, investigating whether vision can influence perceived sound pitch.

Spoken Languages

  • English

Research interests

  • The effects of blindness and vision loss on hearing (how losing sight affects the perception of auditory space).
  • Human echolocation (using self-generated sounds to detect and safely navigate around obstacles in the environment).
  • Binaural hearing, auditory spatial perception and sound localisation (how our ears perceive the location of sounds).
  • Navigation using sound (can sound be used to safely navigate the environment, and how this compares to navigating using visual or touch information).
  • Sensory substitution (using electronic travel aids to perceive the world without vision).

Andrew’s work looks at auditory perception among hearing impaired and blind listeners. He is interested in how sensory impairment affects spatial awareness, and to what extent supra-normal performance for auditory spatial tasks among blind listeners, such as echolocation, distance discrimination and azimuthal localisation, can be explained by cross-modal cortical reorganisation. His work uses virtualisation and psychophysical techniques, human movement, and self-report methods to investigate whether accurate internal representations of auditory space are formed in the absence of a visual signal, and under what conditions blind and low vision individuals demonstrate supra-normal hearing abilities.

 

Areas of research supervision

Currently supervising a PhD student at Anglia Ruskin University studying human internal representations of auditory space.

Teaching

Andrew has previously taught Cognitive Psychology and Research Techniques for Psychology modules at undergraduate level.

Qualifications

  • Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (HEA), Psychology, Anglia Ruskin University.
  • PhD, Auditory Psychology, Cardiff University.
  • BA, Psychology, Cardiff University.

Memberships, editorial boards

  • Member of the British Society of Audiology.
  • Member of Cambridge Neuroscience.
  • Member of the Psychonomic Society.
  • Member of REPRISE, a database of expert reviewers created by the Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR).

Research grants, consultancy, knowledge exchange

  • 2018:Funding awarded by the Anglia Ruskin University Undergraduate Research Internships Scheme 2018-19 (£2k). Title: “Echolocation informs locomotor adjustments when walking through apertures.”
  • 2018:Reviewer for the InZicht programme of the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development (ZonMw) for grant applications.
  • 2018:Reviewer for the "Giovani Ricercatori - Rita Levi Montalcini" programme for grant applications.
  • 2015-2018:Consultant and Honorary Visiting Research Fellow for Anglia Ruskin University. Project: Auditory performance in patients with visual impairment.
  • 2014-present:Visiting Researcher at Cambridge University.
  • 2014:£3200 funded by the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education, Anglia Ruskin University for research investigating spatial abilities among blind individuals. Supervisor to two Undergraduate Summer Studentship candidates. Project 1: “How accurately can blind listeners track static and moving sounds, and tell their location?” Project 2: "Can echolocation guide movement in blind and sighted individuals?"
  • 2011:£3200 funded by Faculty of Science and Technology, Anglia Ruskin University for research investigating auditory distance perception and sensory substitution among blind individuals. Supervisor to two Undergraduate Research Taster Session candidates. Project 1: “Distance perception in normally sighted and visually impaired adults: auditory level and direct-to-reverberant energy ratio cues.” Project 2: “Increasing spatial awareness among visually impaired patients: an assessment and comparison of electronic mobility aids.”
  • 2011:Anglia Ruskin UK Research Networking Fund: £245.

Selected recent publications

Kolarik AJ, Scarfe AC, Moore BCJ, Pardhan S, 2017. Blindness enhances auditory obstacle circumvention: Assessing echolocation, sensory substitution, and visual-based navigation. PLOS ONE, 12(4): e0175750. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0175750

Kolarik AJ, Raman R, Moore BCJ, Cirstea S, Gopalakrishnan S, Pardhan S, (2017). “Partial visual loss affects self-reports of hearing abilities measured using a modified version of the Speech, Spatial and Qualities of Hearing Questionnaire,” Front. Psychol. 8:561.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00561/full

 

Kolarik AJ, Pardhan S, Cirstea S, Moore BCJ, (2017). “Auditory spatial representations of the world are compressed in blind humans,” Exp. Brain Res., 235, 597-606.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-016-4823-1

 

Moore BCJ, Kolarik AJ, Stone MA, Lee Y, (2016). “Evaluation of a method for enhancing interaural level differences at low frequencies,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 140, 2817-2828.

https://asa.scitation.org/doi/abs/10.1121/1.4965299

 

Kolarik AJ, Scarfe AC, Moore BCJ, Pardhan S, (2016). “Echoic sensory substitution information in a single obstacle circumvention task,” PLOS ONE 11(8): e0160872.

https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160872

 

Kolarik AJ, Scarfe AC, Moore BCJ, Pardhan S, (2016). “An assessment of auditory-guided locomotion in an obstacle circumvention task,” Exp. Brain Res., 234, 1725–1735.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-016-4567-y

 

Kolarik AJ, Moore BCJ, Zahorik P, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, (2016). “Auditory distance perception in humans: a review of cues, development, neuronal bases and effects of sensory loss,” Atten. Percept. Psycho., 78, 373-395.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.3758/s13414-015-1015-1

 

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2014). “A summary of research investigating echolocation abilities of blind and sighted humans,” Hear. Res., 310, 60-68.

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378595514000185

 

Kolarik AJ, Timmis MA, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, (2014). “Sensory substitution information informs locomotor adjustments when walking through apertures,” Exp. Brain Res., 232, 975–984.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-013-3809-5

 

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, (2013) “Evidence for enhanced discrimination of virtual auditory distance among blind listeners using level and direct-to-reverberant cues,” Exp. Brain Res., 224, 623-633.

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00221-012-3340-0

 

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2013). “Using acoustic information to perceive room size: effects of blindness, room reverberation time, and stimulus,” Perception, 42, 985-990.

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1068/p7555



Recent presentations and conferences

Kolarik, AJ (2018). “The effect of visual loss on auditory spatial perception,” Vision and Eye Research Unit Symposium, Cambridge.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2017). “Visual loss affects internal representations of auditory space: Results from psychophysical and human movement studies.” Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia, Genoa, Italy.

Scarfe AC, Kolarik AJ, (2017). “The use of echolocation and sensory substitution devices in obstacle circumvention,” UK-China Researcher Links Workshop on Auditory and Visual Impairments, their Impact and Community Care Solutions, Southern University of Science and Technology of China (SUSTC), Shenzhen City.

Kolarik AJ, (2015). “Navigating using sound: echolocation and sensory substitution in the blind,” Sounds that Move Us event, Being Human Festival, London.

Kolarik AJ, Moore BCJ, Cirstea S, Scarfe AC, Pardhan S, (2015). “Using sound to inform spatial awareness and guide human movement in the absence of vision,” Vision and Eye Research Unit Symposium, Cambridge.

Kolarik AJ, Moore BCJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, (2015). “Auditory spatial representations of distance are compressed in blind individuals,” The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) annual conference, Denver.

Kolarik AJ, Scarfe AC, Cirstea S, Moore BCJ, Pardhan S, (2014). “Single obstacle circumvention using echolocation, sensory substitution, or visual information,” British Congress of Optometry and Vision Science, Cardiff.

Kolarik AJ, Scarfe AC, Cirstea S, Moore BCJ, Pardhan S, (2014). “Obstacle avoidance using echolocation and sensory substitution information,” British Society of Audiology 5th joint Annual Clinical and Experimental Conference, Keele.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2014). “The effects of blindness on perceived auditory distance and room size,” Anglia Ruskin Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education Research Conference, Chelmsford.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ. (2014). “How does blindness affect auditory perception?” Vision and Eye Research Unit Seminar, Cambridge.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ (2013). “The effects of blindness on perceived auditory distance and room size,” British Society of Audiology 4th Annual Conference and Experimental and Clinical Short Papers Meeting, Keele.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2013). “An assessment of virtual auditory distance judgments among blind and sighted listeners,” International Congress on Acoustics, Montréal.

Kolarik AJ, Pardhan S, Cirstea S, Moore BCJ, (2013). “Evidence for compression of virtual auditory distance among blind listeners,” 25th Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar, Cambridge.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2013). “The effects of blindness for judging distance to sounds: a compressed auditory world,” An Introduction to the Psychology of Hearing and Beyond Conference, Cambridge.

Kolarik AJ, Cirstea S, Pardhan S, Moore BCJ, (2013). “The effect of visual loss upon audition,” MRC Institute of Hearing Research, Nottingham.

Cirstea S, Kolarik AJ, Pardhan S, (2012). Differences In Perceiving Auditory Distance between Visually Impaired and Severely Visually Impaired,” The Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology (ARVO) Annual Meeting, Florida.

Media experience

2018. “How humans echolocate ‘like bats’.” Interview with Victoria Gill, Science correspondent, BBC News.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-43173613

 

2018. “Seeing without eyes: just like bats, humans can use echolocation.” Interview with Karl Gruber, Science Writer, for Particle.

https://particle.scitech.org.au/people/seeing-without-eyes-just-like-bats-humans-can-use-echolocation/

 

2018. “Echolocation could help blind people navigate like bats: study.” Featured in Xinhuanet. http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-03/01/c_137008055.htm

 

2017. “This is how some blind people are able to echolocate like bats.” Interview with Clare Wilson, Medical News Reporter, New Scientist.

https://www.newscientist.com/article/2145962-this-is-how-some-blind-people-are-able-to-echolocate-like-bats

 

2017. “Teaching Humans to Echolocate.” Interview with Diana Kwon, Science Reporter, The Scientist magazine.

http://www.the-scientist.com/?articles.view/articleNo/50401/title/Teaching-Humans-to-Echolocate/

 

2014. “Human Echolocation and electronically guided travel,” interview in “Supporting mobility and navigation abilities in children and young people with visual impairment,” The Mary Kitzinger Trust Newsletter, Number 2 – Autumn/Winter 2014.

http://www.marykitzingertrust.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/MKT-Newsletter-Nov-2014.pdf