Exposure to damaging environmental noise can lead to hearing impairment due to damage to the inner ear sensory cells (the cochlear hair cells and auditory neurons) or their synaptic connections. Recent evidence suggests that the cochlear synapses are the most sensitive to damage. It is thought that loss of the cochlear synapses can result in a reduction in the fidelity of the temporal encoding of sounds that is crucial for understanding speech, particularly in challenging hearing situations such as a noisy restaurant.
This project will investigate the effects of hearing impairment brought about by the exposure to noise. The project will use behavioural experiments, acute electrophysiological experiments, and anatomical studies to improve our understanding of noise-induced hearing impairment and to enable the development of therapeutic interventions to treat hearing impairment.
This project would suit a student with a background in science, biomedicine or engineering (e.g., biomedical, electrical). The general methods that will be used in this project include electrophysiology, behavioural training, and histology.