Our lab studies the cochlea (inner ear) of the human auditory system to answer basic questions such as: When does the cochlea fully mature during infancy and childhood? and How does cochlear function change across the human lifespan as one ages? We also work to develop novel and advanced diagnostic tests for hearing loss with the goal of personalizing treatments for those with hearing impairment.
Our studies records soft sounds from the ear. This might sound odd to you but the ear does indeed make sound! In the process of "hearing" and sending the message up to the brain for interpretation, the ear creates its own sounds and they travel back into the ear canal where we measure them with this ear bud. These are called otoacoustic emissions (OAES). They are absolutely non-invasive to measure and the test requires no response from the participant. Currently OAEs are measured in hearing clinics and hospitals to screen for or detect hearing loss. However, we are more interested in learning about and characterizing hearing loss, not just detecting it. And those of you with normal-hearing serve as a reference against which to compare OAE results from individuals with hearing loss. We are trying to develop a more comprehensive test of OAEs to understand the origin of specific hearing losses and to distinguish between hearing losses that are similar in some ways but differ in their underlying cause or in the pathology that produced the impairment.
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