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1.  Current and Planned Cochlear Implant Research at New York University Laboratory for Translational Auditory Research 
The Laboratory of Translational Auditory Research (LTAR/NYUSM) is part of the Department of Otolaryngology at the New York University School of Medicine and has close ties to the New York University Cochlear Implant Center. LTAR investigators have expertise in multiple related disciplines including speech and hearing science, audiology, engineering, and physiology. The lines of research in the laboratory deal mostly with speech perception by hearing impaired listeners, and particularly those who use cochlear implants (CIs) or hearing aids (HAs). Although the laboratory's research interests are diverse, there are common threads that permeate and tie all of its work. In particular, a strong interest in translational research underlies even the most basic studies carried out in the laboratory. Another important element is the development of engineering and computational tools, which range from mathematical models of speech perception to software and hardware that bypass clinical speech processors and stimulate cochlear implants directly, to novel ways of analyzing clinical outcomes data. If the appropriate tool to conduct an important experiment does not exist, we may work to develop it, either in house or in collaboration with academic or industrial partners. Another notable characteristic of the laboratory is its interdisciplinary nature where, for example, an audiologistandan engineer might work closely to develop an approach that would not have been feasible if each had worked singly on the project. Similarly, investigators with expertise in hearing aids and cochlear implants might join forces to study how human listeners integrate information provided by a CI and a HA. The following pages provide a flavor of the diversity and the commonalities of our research interests.
doi:10.3766/jaaa.23.6.5
PMCID: PMC3677062  PMID: 22668763
Cochlear implants; diagnostic techniques; hearing aids and assistive listening devices; hearing science; speech perception
2.  Middle Ear Cavity Morphology Is Consistent with an Aquatic Origin for Testudines 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54086.
The position of testudines in vertebrate phylogeny is being re-evaluated. At present, testudine morphological and molecular data conflict when reconstructing phylogenetic relationships. Complicating matters, the ecological niche of stem testudines is ambiguous. To understand how turtles have evolved to hear in different environments, we examined middle ear morphology and scaling in most extant families, as well as some extinct species, using 3-dimensional reconstructions from micro magnetic resonance (MR) and submillimeter computed tomography (CT) scans. All families of testudines exhibited a similar shape of the bony structure of the middle ear cavity, with the tympanic disk located on the rostrolateral edge of the cavity. Sea Turtles have additional soft tissue that fills the middle ear cavity to varying degrees. When the middle ear cavity is modeled as an air-filled sphere of the same volume resonating in an underwater sound field, the calculated resonances for the volumes of the middle ear cavities largely fell within testudine hearing ranges. Although there were some differences in morphology, there were no statistically significant differences in the scaling of the volume of the bony middle ear cavity with head size among groups when categorized by phylogeny and ecology. Because the cavity is predicted to resonate underwater within the testudine hearing range, the data support the hypothesis of an aquatic origin for testudines, and function of the middle ear cavity in underwater sound detection.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0054086
PMCID: PMC3544720  PMID: 23342082
3.  Specialization for underwater hearing by the tympanic middle ear of the turtle, Trachemys scripta elegans 
Turtles, like other amphibious animals, face a trade-off between terrestrial and aquatic hearing. We used laser vibrometry and auditory brainstem responses to measure their sensitivity to vibration stimuli and to airborne versus underwater sound. Turtles are most sensitive to sound underwater, and their sensitivity depends on the large middle ear, which has a compliant tympanic disc attached to the columella. Behind the disc, the middle ear is a large air-filled cavity with a volume of approximately 0.5 ml and a resonance frequency of approximately 500 Hz underwater. Laser vibrometry measurements underwater showed peak vibrations at 500–600 Hz with a maximum of 300 µm s−1 Pa−1, approximately 100 times more than the surrounding water. In air, the auditory brainstem response audiogram showed a best sensitivity to sound of 300–500 Hz. Audiograms before and after removing the skin covering reveal that the cartilaginous tympanic disc shows unchanged sensitivity, indicating that the tympanic disc, and not the overlying skin, is the key sound receiver. If air and water thresholds are compared in terms of sound intensity, thresholds in water are approximately 20–30 dB lower than in air. Therefore, this tympanic ear is specialized for underwater hearing, most probably because sound-induced pulsations of the air in the middle ear cavity drive the tympanic disc.
doi:10.1098/rspb.2012.0290
PMCID: PMC3367789  PMID: 22438494
underwater sound; evolution; cochlea; auditory brainstem response
4.  Optical and tomographic imaging of a middle ear malformation in the bullfrog (Rana catesbeiana) 
Using a combination of in vivo computerized tomography and histological staining, a middle ear anomaly in two wild-caught American bullfrogs (Rana catesbeiana) is characterized. In these animals, the tympanic membrane, extrastapes, and pars media (shaft) of the stapes are absent on one side of the head, with the other side exhibiting normal morphology. The pars interna(footplate) of the stapes and the operculum are present in their normal positions at the entrance of the otic capsule on both the affected and unaffected sides. The pattern of deformity suggests a partial failure of development of tympanic pathway tissues, but with a preservation of theopercularis pathway. While a definitive proximate cause of the condition could not be determined, the anomalies show similarities to developmental defects in mammalian middle ear formation.
PMCID: PMC1352305  PMID: 16158670
5.  CT-Derived Estimation of Cochlear Morphology and Electrode Array Position in Relation to Word Recognition in Nucleus-22 Recipients 
This study extended the findings of Ketten et al. [Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol. Suppl. 175:1–16 (1998)] by estimating the three-dimensional (3D) cochlear lengths, electrode array intracochlear insertion depths, and characteristic frequency ranges for 13 more Nucleus-22 implant recipients based on in vivo computed tomography (CT) scans. Array insertion depths were correlated with NU-6 word scores (obtained one year after SPEAK strategy use) by these patients and the 13 who used the SPEAK strategy from the Ketten et al. study. For these 26 patients, the range of cochlear lengths was 29.1–37.4 mm. Array insertion depth range was 11.9–25.9 mm, and array insertion depth estimated from the surgeon's report was 1.14 mm longer than CT-based estimates. Given the assumption that the human hearing range is fixed (20–20,000 Hz) regardless of cochlear length, characteristic frequencies at the most apical electrode (estimated with Greenwood's equation [Greenwood DD (1990) A cochlear frequency–position function of several species–29 years later. J Acoust. Soc. Am. 33: 1344–1356] and a patient-specific constant as) ranged from 308 to 3674 Hz. Patients' NU-6 word scores were significantly correlated with insertion depth as a percentage of total cochlear length (R = 0.452; r2 = 0.204; p = 0.020), suggesting that part of the variability in word recognition across implant recipients can be accounted for by the position of the electrode array in the cochlea. However, NU-6 scores ranged from 4% to 81% correct for patients with array insertion depths between 47% and 68% of total cochlear length. Lower scores appeared related to low spiral ganglion cell survival (e.g., lues), aberrant current paths that produced facial nerve stimulation by apical electrodes (i.e., otosclerosis), central auditory processing difficulty, below-average verbal abilities, and early Alzheimer's disease. Higher scores appeared related to patients' high-average to above-average verbal abilities. Because most patients' scores increased with SPEAK use, it is hypothesized that they accommodated to the shift in frequency of incoming sound to a higher pitch percept with the implant than would normally be perceived acoustically.
doi:10.1007/s101620020013
PMCID: PMC4027892
6.  CT-Derived Estimation of Cochlear Morphology and Electrode Array Position in Relation to Word Recognition in Nucleus-22 Recipients 
This study extended the findings of Ketten et al. [Ann. Otol. Rhinol. Laryngol. Suppl. 175:1–16 (1998)] by estimating the three-dimensional (3D) cochlear lengths, electrode array intracochlear insertion depths, and characteristic frequency ranges for 13 more Nucleus-22 implant recipients based on in vivo computed tomography (CT) scans. Array insertion depths were correlated with NU-6 word scores (obtained one year after SPEAK strategy use) by these patients and the 13 who used the SPEAK strategy from the Ketten et al. study. For these 26 patients, the range of cochlear lengths was 29.1–37.4 mm. Array insertion depth range was 11.9–25.9 mm, and array insertion depth estimated from the surgeon's report was 1.14 mm longer than CT-based estimates. Given the assumption that the human hearing range is fixed (20–20,000 Hz) regardless of cochlear length, characteristic frequencies at the most apical electrode (estimated with Greenwood's equation [Greenwood DD (1990) A cochlear frequency–position function of several species–29 years later. J Acoust. Soc. Am. 33: 1344–1356] and a patient-specific constant as) ranged from 308 to 3674 Hz. Patients' NU-6 word scores were significantly correlated with insertion depth as a percentage of total cochlear length (R = 0.452; r2 = 0.204; p = 0.020), suggesting that part of the variability in word recognition across implant recipients can be accounted for by the position of the electrode array in the cochlea. However, NU-6 scores ranged from 4% to 81% correct for patients with array insertion depths between 47% and 68% of total cochlear length. Lower scores appeared related to low spiral ganglion cell survival (e.g., lues), aberrant current paths that produced facial nerve stimulation by apical electrodes (i.e., otosclerosis), central auditory processing difficulty, below-average verbal abilities, and early Alzheimer's disease. Higher scores appeared related to patients' high-average to above-average verbal abilities. Because most patients' scores increased with SPEAK use, it is hypothesized that they accommodated to the shift in frequency of incoming sound to a higher pitch percept with the implant than would normally be perceived acoustically.
doi:10.1007/s101620020013
PMCID: PMC3202410  PMID: 12382107
7.  The Auditory Anatomy of the Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata): A Potential Fatty Sound Reception Pathway in a Baleen Whale 
Cetaceans possess highly derived auditory systems adapted for underwater hearing. Odontoceti (toothed whales) are thought to receive sound through specialized fat bodies that contact the tympanoperiotic complex, the bones housing the middle and inner ears. However, sound reception pathways remain unknown in Mysticeti (baleen whales), which have very different cranial anatomies compared to odontocetes. Here, we report a potential fatty sound reception pathway in the minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata), a mysticete of the balaenopterid family. The cephalic anatomy of seven minke whales was investigated using computerized tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, verified through dissections. Findings include a large, well-formed fat body lateral, dorsal, and posterior to the mandibular ramus and lateral to the tympanoperiotic complex. This fat body inserts into the tympanoperiotic complex at the lateral aperture between the tympanic and periotic bones and is in contact with the ossicles. There is also a second, smaller body of fat found within the tympanic bone, which contacts the ossicles as well. This is the first analysis of these fatty tissues' association with the auditory structures in a mysticete, providing anatomical evidence that fatty sound reception pathways may not be a unique feature of odontocete cetaceans. Anat Rec, 2012. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
doi:10.1002/ar.22459
PMCID: PMC3488298  PMID: 22488847
cetacea; mysticete; hearing; ear; acoustic fat; imaging

Results 1-7 (7)