Areas of Research: Development of cochlear implants including novel devices based on neural infrared stimulation, use of laser in clinical settings, micromechanics of the cochlea, imaging
The interest of my group is to characterize the function of the normal inner ear, to compare it to the function of a damaged ear, and to develop means and strategies to alleviate hearing impairment. Cutting edge studies include: experiments on cochlear micromechanics, cochlear soft tissue imaging with hard X-rays, research on redesigning cochlear implant devices which use light for neural stimulation, and the development and testing of novel laser sources. In particular, the lab’s recent work on the development of laser based cochlear implants has attracted the interest of many researchers, engineers, and practitioners. Our lab was the first to explore optical radiation as a means of stimulating auditory neurons as an alternative to electrical stimulation, using and studying this novel approach since 2004. In NIH and DoD funded projects, we have determined basic laser parameters that allow us to safely stimulate auditory neurons over several hours. Together with an industrial partner, laser units that are chronically implantable in a cat animal model were developed and tested. The first behavioral results from implanted cats demonstrate that the animals receive an auditory input. Our goal is to further the technology towards a human device.