Hearing research

Hearing is a major factor in human quality of life, and hearing loss is the most common sensory disability in the United States and worldwide.  Despite significant progress in hearing mechanics and biology, our ability to identify the specific pathophysiological processes at play in each patient remains limited. Our understanding of sound transduction through the middle and inner ear, and ultimately of the mechanisms by which it can fail, relies largely on the development of technologies capable of measuring the motion of biological structures involved.

Phase-sensitive optical coherence tomography (OCT) can simultaneously perform high-resolution cross-sectional imaging of the tissue anatomy, and measure sub-pixel displacements with sensitivity on the order of a nanometer. Such a technology offers unique opportunities in the field of otology and hearing research because it can make space-resolved measurements of the auditory function through intact tympanic membrane or cochlear wall, and with a level of detail that was not possible with most existing technologies.

Our group is developing the next generation of phase-sensitive OCT vibrometers for hearing research, addressing current limitations of optical hardware, signal processing and data analysis. In partnership with the Rosowski and Puria laboratories at Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary (MEEI), we investigate the mechanical transduction of acoustic waves through the middle ear ossicular chain, and the dynamic response of the different substructures of the organ of Corti within the cochlea.

Key Researchers

  • Antoine Ramier
  • Liane Bernstein

Relevant Publications

  1. Chang, E. W., Cheng, J. T. Röösli, C., Kobler, J. B., Rosowski, J. J. & Yun, S. H. Simultaneous 3D imaging of sound-induced motions of the tympanic membrane and middle ear ossicles. Hear. Res. 304, 49–56 (2013).
  2. Chang, E. W., Kobler, J. B. & Yun, S. H. Subnanometer optical coherence tomographic vibrography. Opt. Lett. 37, 3678–80 (2012).