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Engineering

Hearing and Balance Centre Research

Boy with CI and picture of lady listening

The Hearing and Balance Centre is part of the Signal Processing Audio & Hearing Group at the Institute of Sound & Vibration Research, within the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences at the University of Southampton.

Hearing is an intimate sense that allows us to communicate and orient. Hearing is important in the development of language, learning and behaviour. The loss of hearing is a catastrophic event in many peoples lives.

KEMAR and picture of fitness for duty

At the University of Southampton we have a multidisciplinary team including clinicians, hearing scientists, acousticians, biologists and biomedical engineers who aim to reduce disability resulting from hearing impairment. To that aim, we carry out research into understanding fundamental processes of Hearing, measuring Hearing performance and aiding Hearing function to improve quality of life.

Understanding fundamental processes of Hearing.

The ear is amazingly sensitive to sound. To understand how we might improve hearing we aim to understand how the hearing system works, how the brain interprets auditory input and how disease processes can affect function. This includes modelling how sound is processed within the cochlea including the active amplification of sound and the generation of otoacoustic emissions, measuring how the brain responds to sound and exploring how inflamatory processes can affect hearing function. We are also interested in how machines may emulate human hearing processes through machine hearing.

Measuring Hearing Performance.

When someone reports hearing problems we want to know how to assess their hearing in order to advise them which options may best help them. To that end we both research technical methods to improve the physical measurement of hearing function and also explore approaches to quantify the impact of hearing impairment on an individual. This includes using virtual acoustics to assess real world hearing performance and understand how we are able to localise sound through binaural hearing, assessing noise related high frequency hearing loss and exploring how hearing loss may affect people's ability to work in the military or police services following hearing impairment, known as fitness for duty  

Aiding Hearing Function to improve quality of life.

Hearing aids and cochlear implants increase the audibility of sounds that are otherwise insufficiently audible to the impaired ear. The Hearing and Balance Centre has a long track record of research into hearing aids and cochlear implants. We collaborate with the University of Southampton Auditory Implant Service and this offers us an unique opportunity to combine clinical work and research. Our research includes methods to compare the performance of different hearing aids, using deep neural networks to enhance speech perception, approaches to help hearing impaired people listening to music, using telemedicine to improve the care for people with cochlear implants and using vibration stimulation to assist hearing.

Our Teaching

Audiologists assess and manage conditions such as hearing loss, tinnitus and balance problems. By taking a programme in audiology, you’ll be prepared for a challenging and rewarding career in which you can transform lives.

We run both BSc/MSci and MSc programmes in audiology. In addition we support PhD students working in various aspects of hearing research

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