Pediatric Audiology Lab

Lab description

The Pediatric Audiology Laboratory was established in 2007 and was permanently relocated to the Friedman Building on the main UBC campus in Vancouver in September, 2008.  The laboratory is equipped for behavioural and physiological auditory research for infants and adults and has ample study space for students working on research projects.

Program of research

The overall objective of research in the Pediatric Audiology Lab is to further our understanding of the maturation of hearing through investigations focusing on both peripheral (external ear to 8th nerve) and central (brainstem to cortex) processing. Although the cochlea has been shown to be adult-like at birth, differences in auditory processing at the level of the brainstem and cortex are evident for infants and young children compared to adults. Our research falls into two streams, both of which focus on different levels of auditory processing during infancy, a period of rapid growth and neural maturation.

The first stream investigates infant-adult differences in hearing sensitivity related to maturation of the peripheral auditory system. There are frequency- and mode- [i.e., air- versus bone-conducted stimuli] dependent differences in hearing sensitivity between infants and adults – the mechanisms of which are not clearly understood. These studies specifically investigate the infant-adult differences in bone-conduction hearing sensitivity and the mechanisms that underlie these differences which have theoretical implications for understanding bone-conduction hearing as well as important clinical implications for diagnosis of hearing loss and potentially for intervention (e.g., fitting of bone-anchored hearing aids in young children).

The second stream studies focus on cortical auditory processing and plasticity related to abnormal auditory input in early infancy. A current focus is the effect that limited auditory experience has on cortical responses to speech stimuli in infants. The majority of studies to date have assessed the speech discrimination skills of young infants with normal hearing and, consequently, a typical amount of auditory input in the early months of life. The increasingly common clinical practice of screening all babies for hearing loss at birth and providing hearing aids and/or cochlear implants before six months of age (since 2006 in British Columbia) provides a unique opportunity to look specifically at the effects that limited auditory experience has on auditory processing capabilities. These investigations will provide valuable insight into the effects of limited auditory input on the cortical plasticity in the developing brain and ultimately inform best practices for early intervention for hearing loss.

Main sources of funding to support this research:

  • Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
  • University of British Columbia

Lab Personnel

Director:

Susan Small, Associate Professor and Clinical Audiologist

Current and recent student researchers:

  • Ricky Lau, M.Sc. Thesis, (2014-present)
  • Rachel Jordan, M.Sc. Thesis, NSERC (2013-present)
  • Erika Mahon, Visiting Ph.D. Student (2014-2015)
  • Annie Wang, Undergraduate research assistant
  • Geneva Gamble, Undergraduate research assistant

Past M.Sc. Thesis Students:

  • Valerie Marshall, M.Sc. Project (2014-2015)
  • Hope Valeriote, M.Sc. Thesis (2013-2015)
  • Lia Best, M.Sc. Thesis, NSERC (2011-2013)
  • Allison Mackey, M.Sc. Thesis, CIHR (2010-2013)
  • Moko Chen, NSERC-USRA (2010), M.Sc. Thesis, NSERC (2010-2014)
  • Hannah de Putter, M.Sc. Thesis, SSHRC (2010-2011)
  • Kelly-Ann Casey, M.Sc. Thesis, CIHR (2009- 2012)
  • Erin Hansen, M.Sc. Thesis (2008-2010)
  • Lauren Hulecki, M.Sc. Thesis (2008-2009)
  • Ning Hu, M.Sc. Project (2009)

Past Student Researchers:

  • Rebecca Hartley, Undergraduate research assistant
  • Ajay Singh, Undergraduate research assistant
  • Regina Wenk, Undergraduate research assistant
  • Flora Ma, Undergraduate research assistant
  • Estephanie Sta. Maria, Undergraduate research assistant

Collaborators:

  • Janet Werker, Department of Psychology, UBC
  • Bill Hodgetts, Institute for Reconstructive Sciences in Medicine, Edmonton, AB
  • Mridula Sharma, McQuarie University, Sydney, Australia
  • Megan Lower, McQuarie University, Sydney, Australia

Contact Us

School of Audiology & Speech Sciences, Faculty of Medicine
Friedman Building, 2177 Wesbrook Mall,
Vancouver, BC Canada V6T 1Z3

email: pal@audiospeech.ubc.ca  Lab phone: 604-822-6325  OR

email: ssmall@audiospeech.ubc.ca  Office phone: 604-822-5696

Current Research Studies – see posters!

Information about baby hearing studies