\tAuditory neurons must encode the information in all sounds of importance to listeners, including speech and music. The responses of the first neurons in the auditory pathway are strongly influenced by complex properties of the inner ear; these responses are distorted by common forms of hearing loss. Neural responses are then transformed as they ascend through the auditory pathway towards the cortex. The transformation of information along the ascending pathway has been the topic of most auditory research. However, there is a descending pathway, referred to as the efferent system, that is as large as the ascending pathway. This system ultimately controls the sensitivity of the inner ear. This project is motivated by the fact that the auditory efferent system, in listeners with and without hearing loss, and especially in the context of aging, is still relatively poorly understood. We will use a computational model for the lower (sub-cortical) auditory system that includes both ascending and descending pathways. We will use the model to test hypotheses related to the encoding of sounds and the control of inner-ear sensitivity to maintain neural codes across a wide range of sound levels and in background noise.
Prof. Dr. Christine Köppl, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg