Communication Engineering

Overview

Research in this laboratory is concerned with understanding the mechanisms by which the inner ear processes sound information. One major focus of the research program is the development of mathematical models of cochlear mechanics that provide a correct account of the inner ear’s ability to amplify quiet sounds. Another major focus is the development of software to facilitate the measurement and analysis of otoacoustic emissions, the echoes generated by a normal inner ear. A third focus of the laboratory is on theoretical understanding of auditory perception which takes into account the compressive growth of vibrations within the cochlea.

Facilities

The laboratory is equipped with a Mandrake Linux workstation used primarily for cochlear model development and a Windows XP workstation used primarily for the development synchronous-averaging software. For development purposes, the Windows workstation is equipped with specialized hardware for the measurement of otoacoustic emissions (e.g., Etymotic ER-10C DPOAE probe microphone system) and several high-speed, 24-bit soundcards, including CardDeluxe (Digital Audio Systems), Gina (Echo Audio Labs), and Waveterminal (Ego Systems).

Staff

The laboratory is directed by Stephen T. Neely, D.Sc.,a hearing research scientist with training in electrical engineering. Otoacoustic emissions research is performed in collaboration with Michael P. Gorga, Ph.D., director of the Clinical Sensory Physiology Laboratory. Theoretical research on auditory perception is performed in collaboration with Walt Jesteadt, Ph.D., director of the Psychoacoustics Laboratory. Work on applications of advanced signal processing in hearing aid research is done in collaboration with Patricia Stelmachowicz, Ph.D., director of the Hearing Aid Research Laboratory.

Summary of Research Program

For Clinicians and Scientists

Modeling of cochlear mechanics is focused on understanding the role of outer hair cell forces in achieving amplification at low levels and dynamic range compression at higher levels. One goal is to simulate both the growth of DPOAEs and loudness in the same cochlear mechanical model, in order to better understand their relationship. Otoacoustic emission software development involves the use of high-quality soundcards to perform synchronous averaging for DPOAE measurement. An advantage of having locally-developed software is the ability to explore new DPOAE measurement methods. This software has also been adapted for the measurement of ABRs and acoustic impedence. One research interest is in the development of improved calibration methods that would allow the specification of sound levels in terms of intensity instead of pressure. The research efforts toward measurement and modeling of auditory response growth have application to objective assessment of hearing status and fitting of hearing aids, in addition to providing a physiologically-based front end to theoretical models of auditory perception.

Families

The work in this laboratory is concerned with understanding the process by which the ear senses sounds and with finding better ways to assess hearing status that go beyond the limits of current audiometric tests. With most babies currently being screened for hearing loss at birth, it is essential that we have accurate descriptions of their hearing problems so that we can design an appropriate course of intervention. Otoacoustic emission measurements are already being used to screen infants for possible hearing problems and have the potential to provide more extensive information regarding hearing characteristics. More accurate descriptions of the hearing deficits will enable us to minimize their impact on speech and language development by optimum fitting of hearing aids. The research efforts in the laboratory focus both on understanding the basis of normal hearing and on improving methods used to diagnose hearing loss in infants and young children.

Specific Areas of Research:

  1. Computer simulations of active, nonlinear cochlear mechanics
  2. Development of synchronous-averaging software for DPOAE and ABR measurements
  3. Theoretical analysis of loudness and models of auditory perception
  4. Use of DPOAE I/O functions to estimate cochlear compression
  5. Calibration methods for specifying sound levels in terms of acoustic intensity

Neely ST in PubMed

1PubMed is a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine that includes citations from MEDLINE and other life science journals for biomedical articles back to the 1950s. PubMed includes links to full text articles and other related resources.

Representative Publications

Neely, S.T. (1993). A model of cochlear mechanics with outer hair cell motility. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 94, 137-146.

Neely, S.T. & Stover, L.J. (1993). Otoacoustic emissions from a nonlinear, active model of cochlear mechanics. In H. Duifhuis, J.W. Horst, P. van Dijk & S.M. van Netten (Eds.), Biophysics of Hair Cell Sensory Systems. Singapore: World Scientific, pp. 64-71.

Stover, L.J., Neely, S.T. & Gorga, M.P. (1996). Latency and multiple sources of distortion product otoacoustic emissions. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 99, 1016-1024.

Allen, J.B. & Neely, S.T. (1997). On the relation between the intensity JND and loudness for pure tones. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 102, 3628-3646.

Neely, S.T. & Stover, L.J. (1997). Generation of distortion products in a model of cochlear mechanics. In E.R. Lewis, G.R. Long, P.M. Lyon, P.M. Narins, C.R. Steele & E. Hecht-Poinar (Eds.), Diversity in Auditory Mechanics. Singapore: World Scientific Publ. Co., pp. 434-440.

Neely, S.T. & Allen, J.B. (1998). Predicting the intensity JND from the loudness of tones and noise. In A.R. Palmer, A. Rees, A.Q. Summerfield & R. Medis (Eds.), Psychophysical & Physiological Advances in Hearing. Whurr, London, pp. 458-464.

Neely, S.T. & Gorga, M.P. (1998). Comparison between intensity and pressure as measures of sound level in the ear canal. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 104, 2925-2934.

Neely, S.T., Gorga, M.P. & Dorn, P.A. (2000). Distortion product and loudness growth in an active, non­linear model of cochlear mechanics. In H. Wada, T. Takasaka, K. Ikeda, K. Ohyama & T. Koike (Eds.), Recent Developments in Auditory Mechanics. World-Scientific Publ. Ltd., Singapore, pp. 237-243.

Kim, D.O., Dorn, P.A., Neely, S.T. & Gorga, M.P. (2001). Adaptation of distortion product otoacoustic emissions in humans. J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. 2, 31-40.

Konrad-Martin, D., Neely, S.T., Keefe, D.H., Dorn, P.A. & Gorga, M.P. (2001). Multiple sources of distortion product otoacoustic emissions revealed by suppression experiments and inverse fast Fourier transforms. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 109, 2862-2879.

Dorn, P.A., Konrad-Martin, D., Neely, S.T., Keefe, D.H., Cyr, E. & Gorga, M.P. (2002). Distortion product otoacoustic emission input/output functions in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired human ears. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 111, 3119-31.

Konrad-Martin, D., Neely, S.T., Keefe, D.H., Dorn, P.A., Cyr, E. & Gorga, M.P. (2002). Sources of DPOAEs revealed by suppression experiments, inverse fast Fourier transforms, and SFOAEs in impaired ears. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 111, 1800-1809.

Gorga, M.P. & Neely, S.T. (2003). Cost-effectiveness and test-performance factors in relation to universal newborn hearing screening. Ment. Retard. Dev. Disabil. Res. Rev. 9, 103-108.

Gorga, M.P., Neely, S.T., Dierking, D.M., Dorn, P.A., Hoover, B.M. & Fitzpatrick, D.F. (2003). Distortion product otoacoustic emission suppression tuning curves in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired human ears. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 114, 263-278.

Neely, S.T., Gorga, M.P. & Dorn, P.A. (2003). Cochlear compression estimates from measurements of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 114, 1499-1507.

Neely, S.T., Gorga, M.P. & Dorn, P.A. (2003). Growth of distortion-product otoacoustic emissions in a nonlinear, active model of cochlear mechanics. In A.W. Gummer (Ed.), Biophysics of the Cochlea: From Molecules to Model. World Scientific, Singapore, pp. 531-538.

Johnson, T.A., Neely, S.T., Dierking, D.M. & Hoover, B.M. (2004). An alternate approach to constructing distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) suppression tuning curves. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 116, 3263-3266.

Neely, S.T., Johnson, T.A. & Gorga, M.P. (2005). Distortion-product otoacoustic emission measured with continuously varying stimulus level. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 117, 1248-1259.

Neely, S.T., Johnson, T.A., Garner, C.A. & Gorga, M.P. (2005). Stimulus-frequency otoacoustic emissions measured with amplitude-modulated suppressor tones (L). J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 118, 2124-2127.

Johnson, T.A., Neely, S.T., Garner, C.A. & Gorga, M.P. (2006). Influence of primary- level and primary-frequency ratios on human distortion product otoacoustic emissions. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 119, 418-428.

Johnson, T.A., Neely, S.T., Kopun, J.G. & Gorga, M.P. (2006). Reducing reflected contributions to ear-canal distortion product otoacoustic emissions in humans. J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 119, 3896-3907.

Neely, S.T. & Jesteadt, W. (2006). Quadratic compression model of auditory discrimination and detection. Acustica 91, 980-991.

Neely, S.T. & Kim, D.O. (2008). Cochlear models incorporating active processes. In B. Lonsbury-Martin, G.A. Manley, R.R. Fay & A.N. Popper (Eds.), Active Processes and Otoacoustic Emissions. Springer-Verlag, New York, pp 381-394.

Johnson, T.A., Gorga, M.P., Neely, S.T., (2008), Oxenham, A.J., Shera, C.A. Relationships between Otoacoustic Emissions and Psychophysical Measures of Cochlear Function. In B. Lonsbury-Martin, G.A. Manley, R.R. Fay & A.N. Popper (Eds.), Active Processes and Otoacoustic Emissions. Springer-Verlag, New York, pp 381-394.