The Hearing Brain Lab

Overview:  The Hearing Brain Lab investigates neural processing of auditory input across the lifespan. The listener uses both the brain and ears to correctly interpret auditory signals. Through the use of electrophysiological methods, we investigate how the brain interprets speech and other auditory inputs in infants and adults, and in normal hearing and hearing impaired individuals. The objective of the research done in the Hearing Brain Lab is to develop clinical protocols that can be used for better diagnostic and management practices in the field of audiology. 

Hearing aids and cochlear implants:  Both hearing loss and aging affect neural processing of speech signals. Hearing aids and cochlear implants are the primary forms of intervention for hearing loss, but there has been little research investigating the interacting effects aging and intervention on neural speech encoding.  We are assessing the effects of amplification on the fidelity of speech encoding over the course of six months following the initial hearing aid fitting.  We have also teamed up with Drs. Matthew Goupell and Sandra Gordon-Salant to assess how aging effects cochlear implant outcomes, using both behavioral and electrophysiological methods.
 
Speech understanding in noise is affected by both aging and decreased cognitive function.  We are collaborating with Dr. Jonathan Simon evaluate neural processing of speech in different types of background noise using the complimentary techniques of electroencephalography and magnetoencephalography.  
 
Speech processing in infants:  Early identification and treatment of central auditory processing deficits may produce long-lasting benefits for language and academic performance. Midbrain responses to speech syllables may provide a reliable measure of auditory processing in infants. We have determined that accurate midbrain encoding of speech syllables occurs in infants as young as three months, and we are now investigating the potential of these responses to predict later language development.
 
Samira Anderson
Department of Hearing & Speech Sciences
Hearing Brain Lab