The University of Southampton
Engineering and the Environment

Research project: 2 ears are better than 1

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Hearing with two ears provides many advantages, such as sound source localization and enhanced hearing in complex environments. This project aims to improve understanding of these advantages, the underlying mechanisms and the consequences of hearing loss and to apply this knowledge to the design of hearing devices and rehabilitative schemes to enhance binaural hearing in hearing-impaired people.

Project Overview

Until fairly recently, people with profound hearing loss in both ears were only able to get a cochlear implant for one ear on the NHS. This meant they were unable to take advantage of the benefits of having two ears, i.e. the benefits of "binaural hearing". Children are now able to get one cochlear implant for each ear on the NHS.

This research project aims to better understand the potential binaural benefits and the binaural benefits actually obtained from various hearing devices, especially cochlear implants and implanted bone conduction hearing aids. For example, we are currently conducting a study into the benefits of a new bilateral cochlear implant called Digisonic SP Binaural. For more information click here.

An experiment to determine the localisation abilities of cochlear implant users
Testing localisation skills







For more information about hearing by bone conduction click here.

PhD projects

> Noura Alothman (funded by Saudi government): binaural and spatial hearing with novel co-ordinated bilateral cochlear implant system

> Alison Vaughan (Rayleigh Scholarship): spatial hearing with bilateral bone-conduction stimulation

> Hala Al Omari (funded by University of Jordan): spatial release from masking with bilateral bone-conduction stimulation

Public engagement

Our research with bone conduction led to the development of one of the most successful and popular exhibits at At-Bristol, a public science learning centre that attracted over 0.25 million people in 2011-12. For more information click here.

Public health policy 

Our research into hearing with bilateral bone-conduction stimulation informed a systematic review and economic analysis of the effectiveness of this technology (Colquitt, 2011, Health Technology Assessment, 26). For more information click here.

Related research groups

Human Sciences Group

Related Staff Member


Key Publications


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