Current Projects


Top-down control of selective amplification

Supported by NIH R01 DC013286 (Gerald Kidd, Jr., Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
This project aims to evaluate how a new type of hearing aid performs in listening situations that are complex and uncertain. The “visually-guided hearing aid” (VGHA) consists of one or more acoustic beamformers that are steered by eye gaze. The potential benefits of this system are studied in listeners with normal hearing, with sensorineural hearing loss, with cochlear implants, and in persons with aphasia.


Central factors in auditory masking

Supported by NIH R01 DC004545 (Gerald Kidd, Jr., Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
The primary goal of this project is to obtain a better understanding of the relative contributions of peripheral and central factors in auditory masking, especially as it relates to the “cocktail party problem.” This listening situation typically involves segregating, selectively attending, and extracting information from one particular sound source (e.g., a specific human voice) in the midst of competing/masking talkers or other unwanted sources of sound. This line of work examines the mechanisms of masking in listeners with normal hearing and with hearing loss.


Spatial hearing in speech mixtures

Supported by NIH R01 DC015760 (Virginia Best, Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
This project aims to determine the contribution of “spatial” and “non-spatial” factors to the communication difficulties of listeners with sensorineural hearing loss in multi-talker mixtures. This distinction is important for focusing efforts to develop new hearing devices that provide a benefit in real-world situations.


Weighting of auditory information

Supported by NIH K01 DC016627 (Elin Roverud, Au.D., Ph.D., Principal Investigator)
This project investigates the ways in which sensorineural hearing loss impacts how listeners weight and process complex sounds. Listeners with normal hearing and listeners with sensorineural hearing loss are compared in their use of auditory information across frequency in nonspeech sounds. This work has potential implications for how sounds are amplified for individuals with hearing loss.


Persons with aphasia at the cocktail party

Supported by a New Investigators Research Grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (Sarah Villard, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Principal Investigator)
The purpose of this research study is to increase our understanding of how individuals who have aphasia (language impairment due to stroke) are able to understand speech while ignoring other speech/sounds in the background.


Listening effort under auditory masking conditions in persons with acquired aphasia and age- and hearing-matched controls

Supported by NIH K99 DC018829 (Sarah Villard, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, Principal Investigator)
The purpose of this research study is to increase our understanding of how effortful it is for people who have aphasia (language impairment due to stroke) to understand speech in noisy environments. It involves pupillometry as well as electroencephalography (EEG).


Amplitude modulation processing and perception under conditions of uncertainty

Supported by NIH F31 to Christopher Conroy
The relatively slow variations in amplitude across time (amplitude modulation) inherent to many everyday sounds are of fundamental importance to auditory perception and communication. This work seeks to better understand how listener uncertainty and expectation affect amplitude modulation processing and perception, especially in dynamic, multisource listening environments such as those that characterize everyday life.


Association of musical training with auditory neural coding and perception

Supported by NSF and the HRC
Multi-site study investigating the effects of age and musical training on listening abilities and on the neural representation of sound. Renewed human subjects approval expected very soon.