Dear List, please find below details of a PhD studentship funded by Cochlear Europe to start in 2009. Please forward to any students who may be interested.
Objective fitting of cochlear implants
Professor Colette McKay
The Audiology and Deafness Research Group invites applications for a distinguished 3-year PhD studentship commencing in April 2009. The studentship is open to UK/EU nationals only due to the nature of the funding and will provide full support for the UK/EU tuition fee and a tax-free annual stipend of £12, 940.
A cochlear implant is a device that restores hearing to severely or profoundly deaf people by electrically stimulating surviving hearing nerves in the cochlea. In order to fit a cochlear implant the range of currents used in up to 22 electrode positions must be established (eliciting hearing sensations from threshold of hearing to uncomfortably loud). This is a long and tedious process for patients and is additionally not possible with infants, who are now routinely implanted at less than 12 months of age. This PhD project has the aim of developing objective measures (using auditory evoked potentials) that are both reliable and clinically efficient for fitting of cochlear implants without the need for behavioural measurements.
Currently it is possible to measure the response of the peripheral auditory nerve to individual current pulses (using electrodes in the cochlea). However, these responses are not sufficiently correlated with behavioural hearing levels to be clinically useful on their own. At issue is the way that the central auditory system codes loudness and the individual differences in the function of the surviving auditory nerves. Thus the project will focus on understanding the way that individual differences in neural function affect loudness (and on developing an objective measure related to the individual differences). It will also compare the effectiveness of evoked potentials measured at different points in the auditory system (peripheral versus cortical). The outcome will be an improved way of objectively fitting a cochlear implant that can be implemented and used in audiology clinics. The project will also significantly contribute to knowledge about how the auditory system encodes loudness, and thus will be relevant to future developments in signal processing for cochlear implants.
Applicants should hold (or be expected to obtain) an undergraduate degree at minimum upper second class or equivalent level in an associated subject. It would be advantageous for candidates to have further postgraduate experience in the form of a Masters in Research or Masters in Audiology degree. The project would be suitable for a person with background or experience in audiology, psychology, electrophysiology or a related discipline. It may also be of interest to an applicant with an electrical engineering or signal processing background wishing to develop a multidisciplinary career profile.
Applications should consist of the following:
Applications should be sent to Professor Colette McKay via email or post:
Professor Colette McKay
School of Psychological Sciences
Human Communication and Deafness Division
Applications will be welcomed up to and including Friday 23 January 2009. Whilst the PhD is scheduled to commence in April 2009 this is negotiable.