Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology

Hearing and deafness

Further Information

Contact a supervisor for detailed information on student research projects

Associate Professor Helmy Mulders
Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders

Emeritus Professor Don Robertson
Emeritus Prof Don Robertson

Assoc/Prof Jennifer Rodger
Assoc/Prof Jennifer Rodger

The School of Anatomy, Physiology and Human Biology offers a diverse range of student research topics.

Deafness and other hearing disorders such as tinnitus are among the most common forms of sensory impairment with profound consequences for the individual and society. Normal hearing depends on the proper function of the many components of the inner ear and the brain pathways to which it is connected. The auditory laboratory seeks an integrated understanding of the normal operation of this sense organ and its associated neural pathways and to describe the mechanisms underlying various hearing pathologies.

Mechanism of the therapeutic effect of furosemide on tinnitus.

Project Outline

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a phantom auditory sensation arising from abnormal electrical activity that develops in the brain as a consequence of hearing loss. In an animal model of hearing loss we have shown that acute treatment with furosemide can reduce the abnormal electrical activity as well as the tinnitus in animals within 8 weeks after hearing loss was evoked. This project will use this animal model of tinnitus to investigate the effects of chronic treatments with furosemide to study long-term effects of this drug on the abnormal electrical activity in the midbrain.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters and PhD

Supervisors

Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders and E/Prof Don Robertson

Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD : An appropriate Honours degree or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Hidden hearing loss: neuropathy after noise exposures and relation to tinnitus

Project Outline

There is now emerging evidence that the traditional indicator of hearing loss, changes in pure tone audiometric thresholds, fails to reveal important suprathreshold deficits linked to progressive cochlear nerve fibre degeneration after exposure to loud sounds. This project will investigate, in an animal model, electrophysiological evidence for loss of nerve fibres in cochlear regions that have fully recovered thresholds after noise exposure. Animals will also be tested behaviourally for evidence of tinnitus,in order to establish whether nerve fibre degeneration is linked to the onset of tinnitus and hyperacusis.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters and PhD

Supervisors

Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders and E/Prof Don Robertson

Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD : An appropriate Honours degree or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Influence of the paraflocculus of the cerebellum on the auditory pathway.

Project Outline

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a phantom auditory sensation arising from abnormal electrical activity that develops in the brain as a consequence of hearing loss. It has been shown that the paraflocculus of the cerebellum also shows abnormal activity after hearing loss and can affect the sensation of tinnitus. We want to investigate in an animal model of hearing loss the pathways between paraflocculus and different parts of the auditory pathway and investigate the effects of activation of the paraflocculus on activity in the auditory pathway. This project will use anatomical and electrophysiological techniques.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters and PhD

Supervisors

Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders and E/Prof Don Robertson

Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD : An appropriate Honours degree or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Effects of repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation on abnormal neural activity measured in an animal model for tinnitus.

Project Outline

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, is a phantom auditory sensation arising from abnormal electrical activity that develops in the brain as a consequence of hearing loss. Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS) can reduce tinnitus perception in human patients, with more sustained effects after longer duration regimes. In the project we will use an animal model of tinnitus in which we measure increased levels of spontaneous neural activity in the midbrain. We will investigate the effects of different stimulation regimes of rTMS on the abnormal central activity using neuroanatomical and electrophysiological techniques.

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters and PhD

Supervisors

Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders and Assoc/Prof Jenny Rodger

Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD : An appropriate Honours degree or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Limbic system and tinnitus

Project Outline

Phantom sensations are a curiously perplexing group of disorders. Tinnitus is a phantom sensation arising in the auditory system. Tinnitus has been commonly thought to be the result of abnormal neural activity in the auditory pathway. However, this doesn't account for why many people intermittently experience tinnitus. It has been proposed that the limbic system may exert an inhibitory gating effect on the abnormal neural activity in the auditory pathway. However, this has been minimally explored.

Our laboratory has recently shown that the nucleus accumbens can affect the auditory thalamus. The aim of this study is to find out if this effect is direct or indirect, via the thalamic reticular nucleus, as has been proposed in previous studies. This study will use electrophysiological recordings and histological techniques  

Project is suitable for

Honours, Masters and PhD

Supervisors

Assoc/Prof Helmy Mulders and Kristin Barry

Essential qualifications

For Honours: An appropriate undergraduate degree with a minimum weighted average of 65% in the level 3 subjects that comprise the relevant major, from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Masters or PhD : An appropriate Honours degree or equivalent research experience from an approved institution. Applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

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Last updated:
Wednesday, 16 December, 2015 12:04 PM

http://www.aphb.uwa.edu.au/2181570