Announcing 2018 Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) grant award recipients
A. Llano, M.D., Ph.D.
University of Illinois at Urbana & Champaign
Project Title: “An exercise intervention to
prevent aging-related hearing loss in a mouse model.”
our research program, we will examine the impact of aging on the auditory
system. We will focus on developing innovative approaches to measure metabolic
changes in the aging auditory system and developing novel interventions to
mitigate them. Successful completion of this work will lead to new approaches
to preserve hearing as we age.
University of Ottawa
Josée Lagacé, Ph.D. and Benoît Jutras , Ph.D.
Project Title: "Virtual Reality For
Auditory Training Therapy: A Pilot Study"
Virtual reality (VR) allows an individual to interact in real time
with a three-dimensional, computer-simulated environment. The objective of this
pilot study is to evaluate VR as an effective interface for ensuring uptake and
motivation to auditory training in children with auditory processing
difficulties. Since many children with auditory processing difficulties also
have learning problems at school, this approach could also contribute to the
enhancement of their learning experience and as well as to a reduction of
Madhu Sundarrajan, Ph.D.
University of the Pacific
Project Title: “Audiological
and Communication Outcomes in Children with Unilateral Hearing Loss: A Pilot
or single-sided deafness is a type of hearing impairment where individuals have typical hearing in one ear and impaired hearing in the other ear. Permanent
UHL exists when the average pure tone air conduction threshold at 0.5, 1, and 2
kHz is greater than or equal to 20 dB HL or pure tone air conduction thresholds
are greater than 25 dB HL at two or more frequencies above 2 kHz in the
affected ear with an average pure tone air conduction threshold in the good ear
less than or equal to 15 dB (National Workshop on Mild and Unilateral Hearing
Loss 2005). It is estimated that 1/3 of children with hearing loss are diagnosewith UHL (Lieu, 2018).
Historically UHL was typically not treated in children with
the presumption that the contra-lateral ear with hearing levels within the
typical range will suffice in providing adequate acoustic stimuli for
development of speech perception and communication skills (Oyler, Oyler &
Matkin, 1987). However, recent research has shown that children with untreated
UHL have poorer communication and academic outcomes compared to typical hearing
(TH) children (Kishon-Rabin, Kuint, Hildesheimer, & Ari-Even, 2015,
Fitzpatrick et al., 2018; Lieu, 2018), indicating that children with UHL may
benefit from an amplification device fitted to the poorer ear.
This project aims to
ameliorate the critical gap in the literature by comprehensively investigating
audiological and communication outcomes in children with UHL. Furthermore, this
project will provide vital information regarding clinical recommendations for
children with UHL, in order for them to maintain age appropriate auditory,
communication and academic outcomes.
Matthew J. Wilson, Ph.D.
Northern Illinois University
Project Title: “Relationship
Between Cognitive Changes and Speech-in-Noise Deficits in Individuals with a
History of Concussion: An Efferent System Study.”
It is well known that long-standing cognitive deficits in
the areas of attention and memory frequently accompany concussion. The role
that these cognitive deficits play in the development of auditory processing
difficulties, such as trouble understanding speech in noise (SIN), following
injury remains unclear. Processing auditory information requires a complex
interaction between afferent and efferent auditory pathways. The nature of the
relationship is such that afferent information, which travels from cochlea to
cortex, can be modulated by top-down, cortical influences via feedback loops in
the efferent system (ES). These loops are integral for a variety of auditory
skills, like understanding SIN. ES strength can be non-invasively measured
using a technique known as otoacoustic emission (OAE) suppression, which
quantifies how well outer hair cell activity is suppressed in the presence of
noise. Greater levels of suppression are indicative of stronger ES activation
and have been shown to correlate with better auditory comprehension abilities.
of the cortex and efferent pathway suggests that alterations in cortical
activity, like what is seen following concussion, may have an impact on overall
suppression levels and, by default, play a role in the development of SIN
difficulties; however, the nature of the relationship remains poorly
understood. Thus, this study aims to examine the relationship between
electrophysiological indices of cognition and SIN abilities and how those
relate to changes in behavioral performance. Finding will not only improve
audiological diagnosis, treatment, and rehabilitation options, but will also
expand the role of the audiologist in the area of head injury research.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine
Philippe Vincent, Ph.D.
Project jointly funded with Hearing Health Foundation
Project Title: “Investigating mechanisms of degeneration of
ribbon synapses between auditory inner hair cells and type 1 afferent nerve
fibers after noise trauma in mammals.”
During all of
our life, we are surrounded by sounds that include different frequencies and
intensity levels. In the inner ear, the sensory hair cells pick up the sound
signal and transmit it to auditory nerve fibers via chemical synapses by
releasing the transmitter glutamate; and auditory nerve fibers transmit the
sound-coding signal to the brain.
intensity is encoded by the amount of glutamate released by the hair cell,
leading to glutamate receptor activation and then action potential firing in
auditory nerve fibers. During noise exposure, it has been described that
auditory nerve fiber endings can be damaged short- or long-term, most likely
due to and excess of calcium influx into the auditory nerve fiber endings. This
phenomenon is called excitotoxicity, however, the underlying mechanisms are not
propose to investigate molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission between
hair cells and auditory nerve fibers and to test how they are affected after
Valerio Magnaghi, Ph.D.
University of Milan
Project Title: “Unrevealing mechanisms of Schwann cell in
and their impact on hearing loss.”
Schwannoma is a benign tumor of the acoustic nerve causing hearing loss. It
arises from Schwann cells, the main myelin-forming cells in the nerve. Thus, changes
in the oncogenic properties of these cells may be involved in hearing loss.
main goal of our project is to analyze the molecular mechanisms underlying the
human Schwann cells oncogenic transformation, potentially responsible of the vestibular
schwannoma onset, and their vulnerability to environmental electromagnetic
fields, that in principle might be pathologically relevant for the hearing loss.
Saad M. Bhamla, Ph.D.
Georgia Tech University
Project Title: “A low-cost, open-source and self-fitting