David Stapells

stapells

Professor Emeritus

Ph.D. (Experimental & Theoretical Psychology, University of Ottawa)

Contact

E-mail: stapells@audiospeech.ubc.ca

Profile

David R. Stapells is a hearing scientist with special expertise in physiological measures of hearing. His research is both applied and basic, with two overriding themes:  (i) development, refinement, and assessment of physiologic tests of hearing, and (ii) investigation of brain mechanisms underlying human auditory perception.  The first category of studies is particularly relevant to current clinical practice in audiology. Recent research in the first category has focused on developing the auditory steady-state responses (ASSRs) for assessment of hearing in young infants, as well as for newborn screening hearing. The goal of the second category of studies is to use auditory evoked/event-related potentials to gain insight into the presence, timing, strength, and location (in terms of anatomical and processing hierarchy) of brain processes underlying normal and disordered human percepts of auditory sensations such as loudness, frequency/pitch, duration, location, interactions between stimuli, and perception of speech. Of particular interest is the investigation of brain processes underlying the behavioural results of “classic” psychoacoustic studies using electrophysiologic responses generated by different levels of the auditory system,  Dr. Stapells has research collaborations with colleagues at (i) B.C.’s Children’s Hospital, (ii) Worker’s Compensation Board of B.C., (iii) Simon Fraser University,  (iii) Rotman Research Institute (Toronto), (iv) Towson University (Maryland), and (v) TongRen Hospital (Beijing).

David Stapells’ Human Auditory Physiology Laboratory

Research Interests

Lab: Human Auditory Physiology Laboratory (HAPLAB)

1.  Development, refinement, and assessment of physiologic tests of hearing: The first category of studies is driven by the overriding goal I have held since my days as a graduate student: To provide for infants and children (and other behaviourally difficult-to-test individuals) the same information about their hearing capabilities as we currently obtain for adult individuals. Such information would include (i) thresholds for specific audiometric frequencies, (ii) thresholds for bone- as well as air-conducted stimuli, (iii) measures of speech perception abilities, (iv) measures of loudness, loudness growth, and other suprathreshold percepts, and, (v) for individuals with hearing loss, assessment of aided vs. unaided function.
Studies

  • Technical aspects of stimulation and recording of auditory evoked potentials (ABR, MLR, CAEP, ASSR,  etc).
  • Development/assessment of statistical (“objective”) measures of physiologic response presence
  • Assessment of accuracy of physiologic measures for behavioural threshold estimates in adults and children (ABR, MLR, CAEP, ASSR).
  • Assessment of frequency-specificity of auditory evoked potential measures
  • Comparison of various auditory evoked potentials (ABR vs MLR, etc.)
  • Assessment of conductive hearing loss in infants using the ABR or ASSR
  • Assessment of ABR/MLR correlates of loudness growth
  • Assessment of frequency-specificity of multiple auditory steady-state response (ASSR) audiometry
  • Cortical ERP measures of speech-sound perception with and without hearing aids
  • Physiologic measures (EOAE, ABR, ASSR) for infant hearing screening

2.  Investigation of brain mechanisms underlying human auditory perception: The general goal of this second category of studies is to use AEPs/ERPs to gain insight into the timing, strength, and location (in terms of anatomical and processing hierarchy) of brain processes underlying normal and disordered human percepts of auditory sensations such as loudness, frequency/pitch, duration, location, and perception of speech. Of particular interest is the investigation of brain processes underlying the behavioural results of “classic” psychoacoustic studies  An example is our recent set of studies concerning intensity discrimination for tones and noisebursts at different base intensities (i.e., the “near-miss” to Weber’s law). Behavioural measures (percent correct/d’; RT) commonly obtained in psychoacoustic research were compared with changes in the MMN, a response originating mainly in the auditory cortices. Other studies currently underway investigate changes in brain processes resulting from sensorineural hearing loss and subsequent amplification.
Studies

  • Effects of noise masking on brainstem, early cortical and later cortical processing of auditory stimuli, as reflected in AEPs/ERPs.
  • Effective duration of stimuli (stimulus integration) for brainstem (ABR) and early cortical (MLR) responses.
  • Relationship between behavioural percept of loudness growth and brainstem (ABR) and early cortical (MLR) responses.
  • Relationship between behavioural and primary auditory cortex (MMN) measures of discrimination (e.g., intensity discrimination; gap detection).
  • AEP/ERP measures of binaural  processing.
  • Development of central auditory hearing.
  • Changes in brain processing as a result of hearing loss/threshold elevation, and relationship to behavioural changes.
  • Changes in brain processing brought about by stimulus amplification/hearing aids.

Select Publications

PUBLICATIONS:  Click here to download Acrobat pdf file of Stapells’  publications and presentations list