Research

Hidden hearing loss

My postdoctoral work at UCL looks at the potential implications of hidden hearing loss. Hidden hearing loss refers to degeneration of the auditory nerve in the absence of any changes in audiometric thresholds. Animal studies have shown that this damage can arise as a consequence of noise exposure or ageing. While evidence for hidden hearing loss in humans is emerging, its consequences for auditory processing remain unclear. In particular, we will investigate the effects of hidden hearing loss on auditory temporal processing and speech perception in noise.

I am also working on a project with Dr Sriram Boothalingam at the University of Wisconsin-Madison examining whether the auditory efferent system may play a protective role against hidden hearing loss.

Individual differences in hearing aid outcomes

My postdoctoral work at Northwestern University focused on understanding individual differences that predict hearing aid outcomes, including speech in noise perception, listening effort, and perceived sound quality. Previous laboratory-based studies suggest a link between an individual's susceptibility to signal modification caused by hearing aid processing and cognitive function. I worked on a clinical trial, using comercially available hearing aids, that investigates the effects of signal modification introduced by wide-dynamic range compression speed and frequency compression. We hypothesize that hearing aid outcomes will relate to individual differences in audiometric thresholds, working memory capacity, age, and spectro-temporal processing.

The effects of ageing on speech perception in noise

My PhD research aimed to answer the question why older adults with normal hearing experience increased difficulties understanding speech in the presence of background noise. I looked at the relative contributions of age-related declines in subcortical auditory processing, as measured by the auditory brainstem response (ABR) and the frequency following response (FFR), and declines in cognitive processing. In short, the data suggested that auditory neuropathy and cognitive declines associated with ageing, in the absence of hearing impairment, do not necessarily lead to increased speech in noise difficulties.