Investigating Noise-Induced Loudness Hyperacusis ASHFoundation funding supports researcher Kelly Radziwon’s efforts to understand how noise and drug exposure affect auditory perception. Foundational Questions
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Foundational Questions  |   February 01, 2018
Investigating Noise-Induced Loudness Hyperacusis
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Hearing & Speech Perception / Acoustics / Hearing Disorders / ASHA News & Member Stories / Foundational Questions
Foundational Questions   |   February 01, 2018
Investigating Noise-Induced Loudness Hyperacusis
The ASHA Leader, February 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.23022018.np
The ASHA Leader, February 2018, Vol. 23, online only. doi:10.1044/leader.FQ.23022018.np
Name: Kelly Radziwon, PhD, research assistant professor, University at Buffalo, SUNY
ASHFoundation Award: 2014 New Investigators Research Grant
What is the focus of your research?
I study the effects of noise and drug exposure on auditory perception. Specifically, I train animals in behavioral tasks so that I can detect hearing loss, hearing-in-noise deficits, tinnitus and/or hyperacusis following noise or drug exposure. Developing and testing animal behavioral models of these auditory deficits will ultimately allow us to test various treatments and preventatives to restore or preserve normal auditory function.
How did your award from the ASHFoundation lead to your current work?
My grant from the ASHFoundation allowed me to develop an animal behavioral model of noise-induced loudness hyperacusis. Prior to receiving ASHFoundation funding, I tested a model of drug-induced (salicylate/aspirin) hyperacusis, but the more clinically relevant model is one that occurs following noise exposure. With ASHFoundation funding, I was able to train rats in a simple behavioral task—to remove their noses from a hole when they hear a sound—and then continue testing them during and following a long-duration noise exposure.
What do you hope to demonstrate through your research—or what has it already demonstrated?
This was the first study to specifically determine the changes in loudness perception that occur following noise exposure. We found evidence of loudness recruitment—a rapid growth in loudness—for high-frequency sounds in rats with substantial hearing loss. Loudness “grows” more rapidly in people with loudness recruitment because they have difficulty hearing low-level sounds—exemplified when someone with hearing loss doesn’t notice someone repeatedly saying their name at an increasing intensity, but then says “Stop shouting!” when the talker has to say their name at a high level. For someone with normal hearing, loudness grows in a more linear fashion.
However, in some animals, we found a faster growth in loudness for low-frequency sounds where hearing was normal. For these animals, we think this rise in abnormal perception of loudness within the normal-hearing regions of the auditory system may be related to the disorder known as hyperacusis, in which moderate-level sounds are perceived as louder than normal and can even invoke ear pain.
Why did you choose this particular research focus?
I became interested in auditory perception after I took a class in sensation and perception as an undergrad. After graduate school, I joined Richard Salvi’s lab at the University at Buffalo, where we take a multidisciplinary approach to the study of hearing disorders.
How has ASHFoundation funding affected your professional life?
The data I collected as a result of ASHFoundation funding provided the preliminary data for other grant applications as well as the backbone of a paper I am writing. Because grant funding and publications are the lifeblood of research, the ASHFoundation provided a valuable first step in my professional career.
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February 2018
Volume 23, Issue 2