Research is an important part of any university program. It stimulates students to pursue answers to academic or clinical questions using a scientific approach. Students have the opportunity to work hand in hand with the principal investigators to develop their research skills. Research also benefits the patients with hearing loss that we see in our clinics. The information that we learn from these research projects makes us better able to serve those patients coming to us for help with their communication problems.

Current Projects

The Effect of Varied Bone Oscillator Placements and Bilateral Occlusion on Behavioral Thresholds in Adults with Typical Hearing

  • Principal Student Investigator: Carolyn Ann Smith
  • The purpose of this project is to investigate the impact of varied bone oscillator placements and bilateral versus unilateral insert earphone occlusion on bone conduction thresholds.  Ultimately, the goal of the project is to show that placing the bone oscillator anywhere along the mastoid, or anywhere along the frontal bone will not result in significantly different thresholds for thresholds obtained at those areas.  The second ultimate goal of the project is to prove that leaving bilateral insert earphones in place, while obtaining bone conduction thresholds, will not significantly affect thresholds, or increase the amount of occlusion effect.

Research the Attitudes of School of Music Students towards Noise

  • Principal Student Investigator: Lisa Cramer
  • Noise-induced hearing loss has become prevalent among musicians.  The purpose of my project is to look at the attitudes of SOM students to see if they have negative attitudes (meaning healthier....they dislike the noise) towards noise.  I will compare their attitudes towards noise with hearing related symptoms (hearing loss, tinnitus, hypercusis) and see if their is a correlation between those that have hearing loss related symptoms and their attitudes.

Auditory P300 in Response to a Familiar Voice

  • Principal Student Investigator: Erin Whitely
  • The auditory P300 is a brain response that occurs when our brain perceives a sound that is different or unique. A traditional way to measure the auditory P300 is to play 2 different frequency tones: a frequent tone (such as 1000 Hz) and a rare tone (such as 3000 Hz). The frequent tone occurs approximately 85% of the time and the rare tone occurs only 15% of the time. When the rare tone occurs, the brain recognizes that the sound is different than that of the frequent tone and a large positive wave occurs. Instead of using 2 different tones, I would like to use an unfamiliar voice as the frequent stimulus and a familiar voice as the rare stimulus. I want to see if the auditory P300 is different when the voice is familiar versus unfamiliar. The ultimate goal is to see if listening to a familiar voice gives you a listening or auditory 'boost' that you don't normally get with an unfamiliar voice.

Age and MLR morphology

  • Principal Student Investigator: Nicholas Leahy
  • The purpose of the current study is to investigate MLR morphology as it relates to age under a variety of stimulus conditions. Fixed sensation level and fixed sound pressure level stimulus intensities are being examined, using both clicks and tone bursts.

Ear Miles: A qualitative analysis of the patient's journey from hearing loss to audiologic rehabilitation.

  • Principal Investigator: Jill E. Preminger, Ph.D.
  • Funding Source: Eriksholm Research Centre, Oticon A/S
  • The purpose of this project conceptualize the actual journeythat people with hearing problems are led through (or go through) in their process of seeking help and getting a hearing aid. This map will be from the patient’s perspective, from being a non-user to a happy user. Through extensive subject interviews, this project will map the different stages from hearing loss identification through successful hearing aid use including the processes that occur between visits with professionals. The ultimate goal is to acquire better knowledge about the patient’s journey in order to inspire new strategies to increase the uptake of hearing aids, reduce fitting failures and improve satisfaction with hearing aids in the future.

Does executive control function, as measured by the CLOX test, predict hearing related abilities in adults?

  • Principal Investigator: Jill E. Preminger, Ph.D.
  • Funding Source: Starkey Hearing Research Center
  • The purpose of this project is to examine the relationship between executive function and peripheral hearing loss, speech recognition in noise, hearing-loss related quality of life, and auditory processing ability in adults between the ages of 45 and 85.  If significant relationships are measured then clinical recommendations should be considered.  For example, individuals who “fail” the CLOX test in the clinic may have a great deal of difficulty learning to use a hearing aid.  Hearing aids with automatic controls and simple designs should be considered.  Specially designed hearing aid orientation programs can be developed. Additionally, these individuals may require specialized hearing aid programming, assistive listening devices and device coaching, and/or may benefit from home based training programs.

Comprehensive Evaluation of Auditory Functioning in Adults Living with HIV/AIDS: A Pilot Study

  • Student Principal Investigator: Katharine Fitzharris
  • Previous studies have shown that HIV and AIDS can have detrimental effects within the entire auditory system, from the external ear to the central nervous system. Traditional audiometric and electrophysiologic examinations (ABR, AMLR, & P300) have been used in these studies. The purpose of this study is to use a more comprehensive behavioral methodology to evaluate this population, including tests of auditory processing, speech understanding in noise, executive functioning, and psychosocial components of hearing loss.
  • Fitzharris, K. & Preminger, J.E. (March 2009).  Comprehensive Evaluation of Auditory functioning in adults living with HIV/AIDS. Poster presentation at the American Auditory Society Scientific Meeting, Scottsdale, AZ.

Construction of an Innovative Scale to Measure the Effects of Hearing Loss on the Non-Hearing Impaired Spouse or Companion.

  • Principal Investigator: Jill E. Preminger, Ph.D.
  • Funding Source: Oticon Foundation
  • The purpose of this proposal is to develop a hearing loss specific quality of life scale for significant others.  The individuals designated as significant others will be spouses or spouse-like partners, since the relationship between an individual with hearing loss and a spouse is different from the relationship between an individual with hearing loss and an adult child.  The specific construct under investigation will be the activity limitations and participation restrictions experienced by significant others as a result of living with an individual with hearing loss.  The development of such a scale will allow researchers and clinicians to measure the effects of hearing loss, hearing aid use, and cochlear implant use on the significant other.