Neuroscience of Auditory and Vestibular Systems

Millions of individuals world-wide suffer from sensory system deficits, including reduction or complete loss of hearing as well as balance problems. As our population ages, these individuals face significant decreases to their quality of life, reduced work productivity, and social isolation. The cost of these disorders is huge. Research in sensory systems disorders is a strength of the University of Minnesota. Recent formation of the Center for Applied and Translational Sensory Science (CATSS) providing shared resources and venues for increased collaboration show an increasing commitment to these critical areas of research, to include auditory and vestibular systems, somatosensory systems, and vision.

Auditory and vestibular neuroscience is an interdisciplinary field focused on neural and perceptual mechanisms of hearing and balance in both normal and pathological ears. The research effort is multidisciplinary. Research foci include: implantable neural prostheses for restoring auditory function through a brain-machine interface, encoding of acoustic signals and acoustic perception, integration of perception and action, auditory processing and perception, neuron networks. Fully-equipped research laboratories provide students with specific training in single-unit and evoked-potential electrophysiology, psychophysical procedures, and computer-based data acquisition and analysis.