Hearing Research

The Studies

Hearing disorders of many types begin in the inner ear, but they have long-term effects in the brain. The Hearing Research Group at NEOMED is a diverse group of scientists interested in how the central nervous system functions in association with hearing and vocal communication, how it is affected by hearing disorders, and how interventions of the peripheral and central nervous systems may ameliorate hearing disorders.

NEOMED researchers study several hearing & communication health issues

  • Age-related hearing loss
  • Noise-induced hearing loss
  • Hearing loss during development
  • Auditory processing disorder
  • Tinnitus
  • Emotional disorders in speech communication
  • Organization of the normal hearing brain

The Statistics


Of American adults (37.5 million) report some trouble with hearing.

1 in 12

Nearly 1 in 12 U.S. children ages 3-17 have had a disorder related to voice, speech, language or swallowing in the past 12 months.


Over 50 million Americans experience some form of tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

The Successes

Bao lab

Potential molecular targets for noise-induced hearing loss in spiral ganglion neurons

Lu lab

Cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuromodulation by metabotropic glutamate receptors in sound localization circuits

Schofield lab

We discovered circuits (red fibers contacting the blue and green nerve cell) that may allow us to tune in to sounds that are interesting and tune out sounds that are distracting. Dysfunction in these circuits may relate to the difficulties in hearing that often accompany aging.

Mellott Lab

We discovered that auditory midbrain cells (arrows) heavily upregulate specific receptors (magenta) during middle-age and the subsequently downregulate the receptor during old age. The loss of these receptors in old age may underlie aspects of age-related hearing loss

Rosen lab

Early childhood hearing loss can result in long-lasting problems with speech perception. We discovered a novel method of remediating perceptual problems that also improved neural sensitivity in the auditory cortex.

Wenstrup Lab

In response to emotional vocalizations, the neuromodulators acetylcholine and dopamine are released into the basolateral amygdala with context-dependent and estrous-stage dependent patterns. These patterns, revealed in studies using microdialysis combined with LC/MS chemical detection, likely provide the basis for context-dependent processing of social vocalizations by the amygdala.

Huyck Lab

This research is focused on the mechanisms underlying maturational changes in performance on basic auditory and speech perception tasks during adolescence in normal-hearing listeners. It will yield experimental protocols that will be applicable for the development of diagnostic tests regarding auditory processing in adolescents and young adults and provide insights for the development of rehabilitation strategies to treat disorders affecting auditory processing in adolescents and young adults.

The Scientists

Jianxin Bao, Ph.D.

Drug and gene therapies for hearing loss and tinnitus

Alexander Galazyuk, Ph.D.

Neural mechanisms underlying tinnitus, and potential therapies

Yong Lu, Ph.D.

Mechanisms of neurotransmission underlying auditory processing

Nichole Beebe


Julia Huyck, Ph.D.

Auditory perception and learning during adolescence

Jeffrey Mellott, Ph.D.

Age-related circuit changes that occur before hearing loss

Bruna Mussoi, Au.D., Ph.D.

Age-related factors that impact speech perception

Merri Rosen, Ph.D., Director

Effects of stress and hearing loss on auditory perception and neural circuits

Brett Schofield, Ph.D.

Neuroanatomical and neurochemical analysis of auditory circuitry

Sharad Shanbhag, Ph.D.


Jeffrey Wenstrup, Ph.D.

Neural circuits underlying emotional vocal communication

Bradley Winters, Ph.D.

Cellular properties of neurons that support sound localization

The Stories


Merri Rosen, Ph.D.
Director, Hearing Research Group
Phone: 330.325.6516
Email: mrosen@neomed.edu

Hearing Research

Research at NEOMED