Hearing mechanics

The mammalian ear is a sensory system that converts sounds into nerve impulses transmitted to the brain. It consists of 3 subsystems: the outer ear, the middle ear and the cochlea. Due to the active feedback by outer hair cells (OHCs) in the cochlea, the mammalian ear exhibits high sensitivity and sharp tuning in response to low level sounds and a broad dynamic range. In consequence of the OHC feedback, the mammalian ear can emit sounds called otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) that can be non-invasively recorded in the ear canal.

Because OAEs are directly linked to normal OHC function, OAEs are commonly used as a clinical diagnostic tool and as a research tool in order to obtain indirect information about cochlear function. However, several aspects of OAE generation are still poorly understood. Our research aims to answer these questions, which could help to better diagnose and treat hearing loss.

Our expertise is in the development computational models of the mammalian ear. These detailed physiologically-based models help us improve our understanding of hearing mechanics and OAEs.

Previous and ongoing projects include: