Our research group investigates middle ear mechanics.
Middle Ear Research Group
Of particular interest are the smallest bones in the human body, the auditory ossicles (malleus, incus, and stapes; also known as hammer, anvil, and stirrup). The ossicles relay sound induced motions of the tympanic membrane to the oval window of the inner ear’s cochlea, compensating for the impedance difference between air and the fluid filled cochlea while maintaining fidelity. A dysfunctional ossicle chain,e.g. ossification of the stapes base-plate or of the joints, can result in severe hearing impairments. Depending on the severity and cause of the hearing loss a partial or complete surgical replacement of the ossicles can become necessary.
The primary goal of our research is to increase our understanding of middle ear impairments and diseases and the development and testing of novel middle ear ossicle prosthesis, both passive and active. An active middle ear prostheses can function similar to a regular hearing aid and is implicated when the outer ear or middle ear are impaired but he inner ear remains functional. Besides work on the middle ear, the research group is also interested in properties of the inner ear, particularly focusing on the improvement of classical, electrical cochlea implants but also on novel optical cochlea implants that are under development by other groups of the InnerEarLab.
The research lab utilizes state-of-the-art methods like laser-doppler-laser vibrometers for high-resolution contact-free measurements of middle ear mechanics simultaneously with a well-defined stimulus.
Taken together, our work group is ideally positioned to tackle challenges arising from clinical and basic research questions regarding the workings of the middle and inner ear.