Reversible silencing of the cochlea

Research Opportunity
PhD
Number of Honour Places Available
1
Department
Medical Bionics Department
Location
Bionics Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
A/Prof Rachael Richardson RRICHARDSON@bionicsinstitute.org

Summary The auditory system has long been studied as an example of neural plasticity, with functional changes to neural processing resulting from deafness or severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants can provide peripheral input and partially reverse these changes from deafness. However, it is unknown if this incomplete reversal is due to the crude input from a cochlear implant or if it is a fundamental limit to plasticity of the mammalian auditory system.

Project Details

Neural activity from the periphery has been shown to be critically important to the normal development and maintenance of neural processing in the brain. The auditory system has long been studied as an example of neural plasticity, with functional changes to neural processing resulting from deafness or severe hearing loss. Cochlear implants can provide peripheral input and partially reverse these changes from deafness. However, it is unknown if this incomplete reversal is due to the crude input from a cochlear implant or if it is a fundamental limit to plasticity of the mammalian auditory system.

Recently, optogenetic techniques have been developed to provide local inhibition of neural activity using light with high spatial and temporal precision. This project will make use of these advances and our existing skills with cochlear implants to reversibly silence parts of the cochlea over long time periods. This will answer questions for understanding the limits of brain plasticity. Knowledge from this project will feed into further developments of cochlear implants and hearing therapeutics.

General methods to be used in the project:
electrophysiology, behavioural training, optogenetics, optics, histology

Suitable background of students:
This PhD project would suit a student with background in science (e.g. biomedical) or engineering (biomedical, electrical)



Faculty Research Themes

Neuroscience



Research Opportunities

PhD
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department

Medical Bionics Department

Research Node

Bionics Institute

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