Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes
Imperial College London Featured PhD Programmes
Coventry University Featured PhD Programmes

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

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.

Candidates are expected to hold (or be about to obtain) a minimum upper second-class honours degree (or equivalent) in audiology, psychology, neuroscience, or a related area/subject. Candidates with experience in psychophysical and/or electrophysiological testing or with an interest in cognitive psychology are encouraged to apply.

For information on how to apply for this project, please visit the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health Doctoral Academy website ( Informal enquiries may be made directly to the primary supervisor. On the online application form select PhD Audiology.

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

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


Bhatt, I. (2017) Increased medial olivocochlear reflex strength in normal-hearing, noise-exposed humans. PLoS ONE, 12(9): e0184036.

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.

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.

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.

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

Email Now

Insert previous message below for editing? 
You haven’t included a message. Providing a specific message means universities will take your enquiry more seriously and helps them provide the information you need.
Why not add a message here

The information you submit to The University of Manchester will only be used by them or their data partners to deal with your enquiry, according to their privacy notice. For more information on how we use and store your data, please read our privacy statement.

* required field

Your enquiry has been emailed successfully

Search Suggestions

Search Suggestions

Based on your current searches we recommend the following search filters.

FindAPhD. Copyright 2005-2021
All rights reserved.