Auditory Science Lab

Research tools

We investigate the physiology, morphology and developmental plasticity of the normal and pathological auditory system. The principal subject for these investigations is the chinchilla, a clean, friendly animal with a range of hearing similar to humans.

In the Auditory Science Laboratory we can study the structure of various parts of the auditory system, for example using the electron microscope to view the architecture of the cochlea, or by looking at nerve fibers that make up the "wiring" of the central auditory brain.

In addition we can study the function of the auditory system by monitoring the mechanical activity of the cochlea (using otoacoustic emissions), by recording the electrical activity of the neurons in the auditory pathway (using evoked potentials or single unit recordings), or by imaging the patterns of activity in auditory cortex (using optical imaging).

We can use these techniques to study how we normally hear, but more importantly we can determine how the auditory system fails in various types of hearing loss and deafness. We can explore what diseases or drugs (ototoxicity) can damage the ears and cause hearing loss. We also use these research tools to follow auditory development, particularly the ability of the auditory brain to reorganize (plasticity) during early stages of development and in the adult.