Detailed Summary of Lab
There are two research areas in the Auditory Neuroscience Lab: Behavioral and physiological mechanisms of binaural and spatial hearing.
The goal of our research is to understand the neural mechanisms of auditory perception with particular emphasis on how sources of sounds are localized. Because the peripheral receptors of the ear have no mechanism to directly sense sound location on their own (unlike the topographic organization of the retina), location must be computed at more central levels. This makes sound localization a fascinating neurocomputational problem, particularly from a developmental perspective. Our experiments seek answers to at least four basic questions:
- What are the acoustical cues to sound source location and what are their physical bases?
- How are the acoustical cues represented and transformed in the activity patterns of neurons in the various nuclei of the ascending auditory pathway?
- How are the neural representations of the cues used by observers to determine location?
- How do each of these aspects of hearing develop?
We use a multidisciplinary approach to tackle these questions employing both experimental and theoretical techniques including human and animal psychophysics, extracellular physiology, signal detection and information theory, systems identification techniques, acoustic transfer function measurement and modeling, digital filter design and estimation, acoustic signal design, and physiological systems modeling.
Basic Studies of Implantable Auditory Prostheses
This research tackles clinically-motivated questions regarding the efficacy of and clinical approaches to mechanical stimulation of the ossicular chain and/or round window of the cochlea using active middle ear implantable hearing aids (AMEIs). The research is a collaboration between basic auditory science (Dan Tollin lab) and clinical otology (Herman Jenkins). Current research is examining the effect on device performance several variables affecting the mechanical loading of AMEIs on the round window of the cochlea, such as the area of the round stimulated, the physical loading pressure or force, the angle of approach to the round window, and intervening fascia materials. Similar studies will be conducted for stimulating different positions along the ossicular chain. These studies will establish a set of variables for optimal, and surgically feasible, placement of AMEIs on the RW and/or ossicles.