MSc Eng, PhD
Visiting Research Fellow
Professor at KU Leuven
Dr Tom Francart is from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium and is visiting the Institute to work with Professors Hugh McDermott and Peter Blamey. Tom has an engineering background and received his PhD in 2008. His thesis examined the perception of a sound’s location in cochlear implant recipients who use a hearing aid in the other (non-implanted) ear. This combination of electric and acoustic hearing is termed bimodal stimulation, and has the potential to improve the perception of a sound’s location, as well as the perception of speech in noisy environments. In normal hearing listeners, the auditory brain uses small differences in the sound reaching the two ears (binaural cues) to localise sounds in space, as well as ‘unmask’ signals hidden in noise. However, cochlear implants and hearing aids were developed independently so that the potential advantages of binaural hearing and bimodal stimulation have not been fully realised to date.
Tom’s research at the Bionics Institute aims to develop a new and unified processing strategy for combined cochlear implant and hearing aid stimulation that maintains, or even emphasises, binaural cues so they can be used by the listener to localise sounds and understand speech in noise.
Tom has received two grants to support his research at the Institute: one from the Fund for Scientific Research (Flemish Government) and one from the European Commission (Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship).
Research fields of interest
1. T. Francart and J. Wouters. Perception of across-frequency interaural level differences. J Acoust Soc Am, 122(5):2826-2831, 2007.
2. T. Francart, J. Brokx, and J. Wouters. Sensitivity to interaural level difference and loudness growth with bilateral bimodal stimulation. Audiol Neuro-otol, 13(5):309-319, 2008a.
3. T. Francart, A. van Wieringen, and J. Wouters. APEX 3: a multi-purpose test platform for auditory psychophysical experiments. J Neurosci Methods, 172(2):283-293, 2008b.
4. T. Francart, J. Brokx, and J. Wouters. Sensitivity to interaural time differences with combined cochlear implant and acoustic stimulation. J Assoc Res Otolaryngol, 10(1):131-41, 2009a.
5. T. Francart, M. Moonen, and J. Wouters. Automatic testing of speech recognition. Int J Audiol, 48(2):80-90, 2009b.
6. T. Francart, T. Van den Bogaert, M. Moonen, and J. Wouters. Amplification of interaural level differences improves sound localization in acoustic simulations of bimodal hearing. J Acoust Soc Am, 126(6):3209-13, 2009c.
7. T. Francart, A. Lenssen, and J. Wouters. Introduction of interaural level differences improves sound localization in bimodal hearing. J Acoust Soc Am, in press, 2011a
8. T. Francart, A. Lenssen, and J. Wouters. Sensitivity of bimodal listeners to interaural time differences with modulated single- and multiple-channel stimuli. Audiol Neuro-otol, 16(2):82-92, 2011b.
9. T. Francart, A. van Wieringen, and J. Wouters. Comparison of fluctuating maskers for speech recognition tests. Int J Audiol, 50(1):2-13, 2011c.