Research Projects

The Laboratory for Translational Auditory Research conducts ongoing research studies with adults who have hearing loss in one or both ears and use a cochlear implant or hearing aids.  In addition, many of our studies include participants who have normal hearing sensitivity.

Adaptation to Cochlear Implants

Longitudinal research studies are underway in our lab to assess how cochlear implant recipients adjust to using their devices over time, and how their ability to understand speech can improve as they gain experience using a cochlear implant.

Optimization of Speech Processor Programming

As cochlear implant technology advances, studies are needed to explore ways to optimize speech processor parameters to allow for maximum speech understanding in quiet and noise. We are currently investigating ways to better custom-fit the implant for an individual patient through the use of custom software developed in-house, and through listening tasks and recipient feedback.

Behavioral and Physiologic measures

We are evaluating the relationship between behavioral listening tasks and the underlying cognitive processes through electrophysiological measures in order to better understand performance differences in cochlear implant recipients. 

Bimodal Listening

Many cochlear implant recipients choose to wear a hearing aid in their non-implanted ear.  Our lab is conducting research to evaluate the overall benefit of listening with both devices and to evaluate programming strategies for both the cochlear implant and the hearing aid that may help to improve how the two devices work together. For individuals with significant residual hearing, we are also conducting studies to examine pitch- perception in the implanted ear.

Bilateral Cochlear Implants

The use of two cochlear implants generally provides superior sound localization, and improved speech understanding in noise relative to use of a single implant. However, not all users of bilateral implants achieve such benefits. We are currently conducting studies to better understand why some individuals receive bilateral benefit while others do not.  We are also investigating methods to enhance speech-understanding and sound-localization abilities in recipients of bilateral implants. 

Listening Effort

Many individuals report that it is ‘easier’ or ‘harder’ to understand speech in certain listening environments.  However, there are very few tools available to measure listening effort in an objective manner.  Thus, we are currently investigating methods to quantify the amount of cognitive effort expended when individuals listen to speech and other sounds in different listening environments.

Single-Sided Deafness and Cochlear Implantation

Cochlear implant recipients with single-sided deafness provide us with a unique opportunity to gain insight into how sound is perceived using a cochlear implant compared to how sound is perceived with normal hearing sensitivity.  In this light, we are conducting studies to validate acoustic models of cochlear implants and to explore ways to further optimize device programming for these recipients.

Perceptual Learning

Individuals who receive a cochlear implant must adapt to a signal that differs considerably from what they heard prior to losing their hearing.  While individuals can clearly learn to use this distorted signal to understand speech, we know very little about the mechanisms that underlie such learning, and what can be done to facilitate it.  We are currently exploring these issues in perceptual-learning studies in both normal-hearing individuals and recipients of cochlear implants.

Computational Modeling

We are analyzing speech data collected from cochlear implant recipients to develop computational models, with a hope that these models can be used to predict performance outcomes of an individual prior to and after cochlear implantation.

Interested in participating?