Auditory Perception in Noisy Environments
The first aim of our research is to understand the biological basis of hearing in noisy environments. We are interested in how sounds are encoded in the brain by the activity of populations of neurons and how this activity may subserve auditory perception and behavior. To that end, we use an approach that combines behavior, electrophysiology, quantitative analysis and computational modeling.
Using nonhuman primates as a model, we investigate auditory perception through behavioral psychoacoustic tasks, such as detection of signals (i.e. tones, amplitude modulated tones, human communication sounds, etc.) in quiet and in noisy, naturalistic environments (i.e. background noise).
In particular, we are interested in characterizing the spectrotemporal aspects of auditory perception. We measure spectral and temporal resolution using a variety of standard psychoacoustic tasks, such as tone detection in amplitude modulated noise to measure temporal release from masking and tone detection in notched noise to measure frequency selectivity.
We also examine the relationship between behavior and neural circuitry by simultaneously recording the activity of neurons in the auditory brainstem and midbrain during behavioral performance.
Consequences of Noise-Induced Hearing Loss
The second aim of our research is to understand the biological basis of noise-induced hearing loss.
We characterize the effects of noise-induced hearing loss on auditory perception.
Through collaborative efforts, we investigate changes in cochlear histology following noise-induced hearing loss using confocal microscopy and immunohistochemistry techniques.
We also investigate changes to the auditory pathway using clinical electrophysiological measures, including auditory brainstem responses (ABRs), otoacoustic emissions (OAEs), and middle ear muscle reflexes (MEMRs).
The long-term goal of the lab is to apply our findings to the development of improved assistive hearing technologies. Research in the lab is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIDCD).