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Hearing and Donuts (Brain and Bagels) Seminar
April 30, 2021 @ 8:30 am - 9:30 am
Presenter: Seba Ausili, Ph.D., University of Miami, School of Medicine, Dept. of Otolaryngology
Topic: Experience-dependent Sound Localization
Spatial hearing is essential in our everyday life. Sound localization in the horizontal plane (azimuth angle) relies on binaural differences in arrival time (interaural time differences, ITDs) or intensity (interaural level differences, ILDs) of the acoustic input. Based on these consistent and unambiguous acoustic cues, the auditory system of normal-hearing listeners can localize sounds with remarkable accuracy and precision. Several experiments have shown that the human auditory system successfully adapts to acute and long-term changes in the acoustic cues. Our system is able to use additional sources of information to infer the most likely location of a sound, and the brain acquires knowledge about the relevance or irrelevance of different sources of information through experience and learning. This learning is enabled by multisensory integration, and through sensorimotor interactions with the environment.
In this talk, we will discuss whether listeners with impaired hearing employ similar adaptation mechanisms. We will review sound-localization responses in the horizontal plane of listeners with different hearing impairments and with different cochlear implant fitting configurations. The different conditions are expected to pose different short-term and long-term coping strategies for the auditory system for the different groups of listeners, which depend on the quality and consistency of the remaining acoustic input, and on the initial state of the listener. Furthermore, to test for the presence of consistent and resolvable acoustic cues for spatial hearing in the different groups of listeners, we will observe the output of artificial neural networks. In training these networks, we simulated the inputs provided by a cochlear implant, and thus the adaptation to normal, acute and chronic monaural, and restored binaural hearing conditions.