Many people who have difficulty understanding speech, particularly in noisy situations, may be misdiagnosed as having normal hearing and therefore remain untreated. The loss of functional auditory nerves and auditory nerve synapses that normally carry complex sound signals from the cochlear hair cells to the brain, rather than a loss in auditory sensitivity. This loss results 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 moderate sound exposure on the auditory pathway using using behavioural experiments, acute electrophysiological experiments andanatomical studies. The ultimate outcome of this project will be a clinical diagnostic tool for hidden hearing loss which will enable the development of clinically relevant treatments tailored to individuals.