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Dr Steven Bell BSc, MSc, PhD

Associate Professor

Dr Steven Bell's photo

Dr Steven Bell is Associate Professor in Audiology within Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Steve is a registered Clinical Scientist and coordinates the MSc in Audiology at the University of Southampton. His main area of research involves measuring the brain response to sound. This is important for testing hearing, particularly in newborn infants, but has other applications including measuring if hearing aids are working well and telling if people wake up in operations. He is also interested in methods to test human balance and ways to evaluate the benefits of hearing aids and cochlear implants.

In addition to teaching and research activities, he manages the Hearing and Balance Centre Clinic, is a registration assessor for the Health and Care Professions Council, is a council member of the International Evoked Response Audiometry Study Group and is a member of the British Society of Audiology Special Interest Group in Electrophysiology. He was a joint recipient of the vice chancellors teaching award as part of the team which helped to create the BSc in Audiology at Southampton.


Steve obtained his first degree in Natural Sciences with final year specialising in Experimental Psychology. He then worked for 4 years in areas of community forensic psychology and dementia care. During that time, he became aware of the clinical scientist training scheme. Audiological Science was particularly appealing to him as it combined direct patient contact with scientific research. He obtained a regional clinical scientist training place from Reading and Windsor which funded him to take the MSc in Audiology at ISVR, University of Southampton and then spent a year training at King Edward VII hospital in Windsor, after which he obtained the Certificate of Audiological Competence (CAC) in 1999. Due to his interest in research he decided to return to the ISVR to study for a PhD, which he completed in 2002. He has since remained at the ISVR.


Research interests

His primary area of research involves evoked responses: Measuring electrical responses from the hearing and balance system in response to sensory stimulation. This work can be broadly divided into three areas: 1. Improving the measurement of responses. This includes signal processing approaches (statistical and multi-channel) to better detect the signals in the brain and developing stimulation methods such as chirps and maximum length sequences to better elicit the responses. 2. Exploring the clinical utility of responses. Applications of evoked responses include hearing threshold testing, diagnosis of hearing and balance problems, evaluating the benefit of hearing aids or cochlear implants, and inter-operative monitoring during surgery. These applications are particularly important in patients who cannot co-operate with testing, for example young infants or patients undergoing anaesthesia. 3. Using evoked responses to further understanding of the processing of sound or vestibular input by the brain, for example seeing how connections in the brain alter following cochlear implantation and exploring how attention/ consciousness modulate the processing of sensory information in the brain.

His is also interested in evaluating the benefits of hearing aid and cochlear implant technology, for example by measuring access to sound using evoked responses, or by developing objective approaches to measure the performance of advanced features of hearing aids such as noise reduction or adaptive directional microphones in order to predict the benefit and subjective experience that patients will gain from such devices and has previously researched the effects of mobile phones on hearing.

He is principle investigator on the Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) funded project ‘Personalized fitting and evaluation of hearing aids with EEG responses’, a joint project between the Universities of Southampton, Manchester, Imperial College and the Interacoustics Research Unit. His research has also been supported by the Oticon Foundation, the National Institute for Health Research, the National Institute of Academic Anaesthesia, the Medical Research Council, the British Society of Audiology, the Kerkut Trust and the European GUARD project.

Evoked potential measurement to indicate awareness during anaesthesia
Awareness during anaesthesia
Measuring the response of the balance system to vibration
Response of the balance system
Testing the directional performance of hearing aids in anaechoic conditions
Testing hearing aids

Research group

Signal Processing, Audio and Hearing Group

Affiliate research group

Hearing and Balance Centre

Research project(s)

Anaesthesia and awareness

Occasionally people wake up during surgery, which is highly distressing. It is a particular problem when a muscle relaxant is given as people are unable to move to tell people that they are awake. We hope to develop methods that can tell if people are awake in operations using either the brain response to sound, or the patterns of connection in the brain.

Personalized fitting and evaluation of hearing aids with EEG responses

The webpage would give an overview of the project, with regular updates on research outcomes and news events related to the project or the topic of hearing aid technology. We would also like a short section on Outreach events at which the research group will participate. Lastly, a link would be provided to the EPSRC website and potentially websites about the project at collaborating institutions. I have made the titles of the different subpages in bold.

Finding a sense of balance

Balance disorders and falls in the elderly are very common. However methods to test the balance system of the inner ear are relatively limited. We hope to improve methods to test balance function using sound and vibration. Ultimately this should lead to better diagnosis and management for balance disorders

What are hearing aids up to?

Developing methods to measure the performance of advanced features in hearing aids/cochlear implants and to predict how much they will benefit patients.

The Hearing Brain

It is possible to measure the electrical response of the brain to sound. However the signals are very small and can be swamped by electrical activity from rest of the body. In this project we are developing better methods to measure the tiny signals and exploring their clinical applications.

Sort via:TypeorYear



TitleModule CodeProgrammeRole
Introduction to Paediatric Audiology AUDI3003 BSc Audiolog and Msci Audiology Module Lead
Paediatric Audiology AUDI6007 MSc Audiology and MSc Audiology (with Clinical Placement) Module Lead
MSc Research Project FEEG6012 MSc in Engineering Module Lead
Clinical Audiology 1 AUDI6006 MSc Audiology and MSc Audiology (with Clinical Placement) Contributes to Teaching
Physiology and Psychology of Hearing AUDI6009 MSci Audiology, MSc Audiology and MSc Audiology (with Clinical Placement) Contributes to Teaching
Fundamentals of Auditory Implants AUDI6012 MSci Audiology, MSc Audiology and MSc Audiology (with Clinical Placement) Contributes to Teaching


Dr Steven Bell
Engineering, University of Southampton, Highfield, Southampton. SO17 1BJ United Kingdom

Room Number : 13/4015

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