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Investigating the positive and negative effects of noise exposure: increased toughening of the ears vs. increased risk of hearing damage


   Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health

  , ,  Applications accepted all year round  Self-Funded PhD Students Only

About the Project

It is well-established that high levels of noise exposure can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus (i.e. a ringing or buzzing in the ears). It has also been suggested that noise from modern urbanised society is sufficient to cause some degree of “hidden” or sub-clinical hearing damage which is not readily detected using conventional hearing tests. However, there is also some research to suggest that low-to-medium levels of noise exposure may help to “toughen-up” the ears so that they are less susceptible to damage from subsequent high levels of noise exposure. This could explain some of the variability in individuals’ susceptibility to noise-induced hearing problems, where previous noise exposure earlier in life may serve to have a protective effect. Nevertheless, the precise mechanisms and timescale of this toughening effect remains to be determined, and it is unknown how long-lasting this toughening effect is after exposure to noise or after a period of prolonged quiet time, nor what is the precise “dose” of noise exposure required to develop this toughening of the ears. It is also possible that other factors such as the type of noise (i.e. pleasant vs unpleasant), cognitive abilities such as selective attention, and auditory processing skills, may provide a “top-down” contribution to this toughening effect.

This project aims to explore the different effects that noise exposure can have on our hearing, from early childhood up until older age, while also accounting for factors such as cognitive and auditory processing skills. The project will involve a variety of different experimental methods including questionnaires and interviews, auditory psychophysical testing, clinical audiological measures, cognitive testing and electrophysiology.

Entry Requirements

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second class honours degree (or equivalent) in a related area/subject. Candidates with previous laboratory experience, particularly in cell culture and molecular biology, are particularly encouraged to apply.

How To Apply

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/). Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Genetics

For international students, we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences.

Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Equality, diversity and inclusion is fundamental to the success of The University of Manchester, and is at the heart of all of our activities. The full Equality, diversity and inclusion statement can be found on the website https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/research/apply/equality-diversity-inclusion/”

For international students we also offer a unique 4 year PhD programme that gives you the opportunity to undertake an accredited Teaching Certificate whilst carrying out an independent research project across a range of biological, medical and health sciences. For more information please visit http://www.internationalphd.manchester.ac.uk


Funding Notes

Applications are invited from self-funded students. This project has a Band 2 fee. Details of our different fee bands can be found on our website (View Website). For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website (View Website).

As an equal opportunities institution we welcome applicants from all sections of the community regardless of gender, ethnicity, disability, sexual orientation and transgender status. All appointments are made on merit

References

Bhatt, I. (2017) Increased medial olivocochlear reflex strength in normal-hearing, noise-exposed humans. PLoS ONE, 12(9): e0184036. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0184036

Bidelman GM., Schneider, AD., Heitzmann, VR. & Bhagat, SP. (2017). Musicianship enhances ipsilateral and contralateral efferent gain control to the cochlea. Hearing Research, 344, 275-283. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.heares.2016.12.001

Fan, L., Zhang, Z., Wang, H., Li, C., Xing, Y., Yin, S., Chen, Z. & Wang, J. (2020). Pre-exposure to Lower-Level Noise Mitigates Cochlear Synaptic Loss Induced by High-Level Noise. Frontiers in systems neuroscience, 14, 25. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnsys.2020.00025

Miyakita, T., Hellström, P., Frimanson, E. & Axelsson, Q. (1992) Effect of low level acoustic stimulation on temporary threshold shift in young humans. Hearing Research, 60 (2),149-155. https://doi.org/10.1016/0378-5955(92)90017-H

Wolpert, S., Heyd, A. & Wagner, W. (2014) Assessment of the Noise-Protective Action of the Olivocochlear Efferents in Humans. Audiol Neurotol, 19, 31-40. https://doi.org/10.1159/000354913

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