Director: Robert V. Harrison

The Auditory Science Laboratory within the Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) has been part of the department since 1984. We have mastered many novel research techniques to explore the structure and function of the normal and pathological auditory system.

Our methods include various brain imaging and electrophysiological techniques, including the recording of single neurons from different areas of the auditory brain. We also carry out evoked potential and otoacoustic emission research in human subjects and in animal models. In our anatomical studies, we continue to do electron microscopy and various histological evaluations of the inner ear, and we also probe neural activity patterns in the auditory brain with immunolabeling techniques. In the past year we have also carried out corrosion cast studies of vascular structures, particularly the blood supply to the cochlea. See below a corrosion cast image of the strial blood supply to the cochlea in a mouse model.

  • corrosion cast of cochlea
  • Arteriol vein feeding the stria vascularis

This past year has been very busy and productive. Jaina Negandhi (Project Manager) has been exploring some important issues regarding glutamate excitotoxicity as a result of cochlear damage. With Adrian James we have completed studies on the age related aspects of otoacoustic emission suppression. Over the past year, Lisa D’Alessandro has continued her PhD thesis work and is almost finished! She has been interested in patterns of neural activity in the auditory midbrain, and has been investigating the developmental plasticity of the auditory midbrain. Another PhD candidate, Mattia Carraro continues his research work investigating some important aspects of the blood supply to the cochlea.

This past year, through the funding of a CIHR team grant, we have had some very fruitful collaborations with other research teams including that of Dr. Lu-Yang Wang at SickKids and Dr. Vincent Lin at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Other collaborators in the lab over the past year have been residents Nik Wolter and Lukas Kus, and summer students Adrienne Harrison and Emily Papsin. In addition to basic laboratory based research we have active collaboration with the Cochlear Implant Research Lab, directed by Drs. Blake Papsin and Karen Gordon, and also the Centre for Voice and Laryngeal Function, directed by Dr. Paolo Campisi.

The Auditory Science Laboratory has had a productive year thanks to all the hard work of our trainees and staff.