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The University of Southampton

Hearing and Balance Centre Research

The key research areas of the Hearing and Balance Centre are:


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 lifes.
In the Hearing and Balance Centre we strive to understand the process of hearing better. This page provides an overview of this research theme and a brief description of some of the current research areas and projects within this theme. This theme is closely related to our other Research into Hearing Aids and Cochlear Implants and Vestibular Function.

Hearing prostheses

Hearing aids and cochlear implants increase the audibility of sounds that are otherwise insufficiently audible to the impaired ear. Further technologies may help to overcome the additional distortions occurring in the impaired auditory system, particularly in background noise. Moreover, the central nervous system may redress some of the distortions by re-mapping neural resources gradually over time. There are also psychological adjustments to hearing loss and to the provision of devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants. This research theme addresses a wide range of approaches to devising the best provision of acoustic or electrical stimulation to the individual. The HABC has a long track record in research in hearing aids and cochlear implants. The South of England Cochlear Implant Centre is part of our group, and this offers us an unique opportunity to combine clinical work and research.


The Pathology of the vestibular labyrinth or other systems involved in the maintenance of balance can affect people in many ways, including dizziness and vertigo, nausea, anxiety, avoidance behaviour, psychosocial problems, sensation of and actual imbalance that can lead to falls. The main treatment approach for chronic balance problems involves promoting natural compensation mechanisms within the central nervous system. A barrier to such trials is the inherent difficulty of measuring treatment outcome in a condition where subjective experience is often considered the most reliable indicator of disease impact. This research theme concentrates on the development and validation of suitable subjective outcome measures and trials of treatments for dizziness related to a range of pathologies.

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