Congratulations to Sriram Boothalingam, Ph.D., FAAA, on being featured in the ASHA Leader magazine. Why and How Does the Brain Control Our Ears discusses his research focus of the need to understand the implications of the top-down brain-ear link, called the auditory efferent system, for human hearing. Through the investigation of basic efferent function, Sriram is also evaluating how this system varies in pathologies, such as cochlear synaptopathy.
A secondary focus is using otoacoustic emissions (OAEs) to build tools to reliably measure the top-down influence of auditory efferents on hearing. OAEs are extra energy generated in a healthy inner ear that emanate to the external ear canal as sound. The lab uses a sensitive microphone placed in the ear canal to measure this tiny sound. Sriram chose OAEs as his primary tool as they are already widely used clinically, including in newborn hearing screening.