Glossary

acoustic neuroma – a rare, noncancerous brain tumour. The tumour grows on a nerve in the brain near to the ear and it can cause problems with hearing and balance, as well as tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

acoustic shock syndrome – this is a condition that is connected with incidents involving exposure to short duration, high frequency, high intensity sounds through a telephone headset.

anaerobic bacteria – bacteria that prefer to grow in the absence of oxygen. Specialised techniques are required to investigate them.

antibiofilm strategies – these include the use of antimicrobial biomaterials and the application of high-dose antimicrobials. They also include, for instance, modification of surgical practices to minimise the risk of biofilm infection.

antimicrobial biomaterials – these include biodegradable and nonbiodegradable biomaterials, that each might aim to prevent microbial attachment and colonisation, or to eradicate biofilms if they develop.

audiogram – an assessment of hearing ability. An audiogram graphically represents how an individual has responded to a series of sounds presented at very soft levels.

audiology – a branch of science that studies hearing, balance, and related disorders.

audiometry – a family of tests that determine an individual’s ability to hear tones, to discriminate between different sound intensities, to recognise pitch, or to distinguish speech from background noise.

audio-vestibular – pertaining to the auditory and balance functions of the inner ear.

auditory neuroscience – a branch of science that investigates how sound is processed by the brain.

auditory processing disorder – an umbrella term for a variety of disorders that affect the way the brain processes sound information.

auditory psychophysics – a branch of science that investigates the relationship between physical sound stimuli and the sensations and perceptions they affect.

auditory scene analysis – a branch of science that addresses the problem of hearing in complex auditory environments.

auditory training – a process that involves teaching the brain to listen.

autoimmune – a condition that occurs when the immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissue.

biofilms – specialised communities of bacteria. Their most important aspects are that they differ radically from those grown in the routine laboratory. They are insusceptible to most antibiotics at conventional doses and they are responsible for chronic and relapsing infections.

cholesteatoma – a type of skin cyst within the middle ear.

coarticulation – this refers to a situation in which a conceptually isolated speech sound is influenced by, and becomes more like, a preceding or following speech sound.

coarticulatory cues – these cues provide contextual information about the sound combinations that occur in speech syllables.

cochlear implant – a surgically implanted electronic device that provides a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard of hearing.

cognition – In science, cognition is a group of mental processes that includes attention, memory, producing and understanding language, solving problems, and making decisions

cognitive behaviour therapy – is a form of talking therapy that combines cognitive therapy and behaviour therapy. It focuses on how the individual thinks about the things going on in his/her life (thoughts, images, beliefs and attitudes) and how this impacts on the way he/she behaves and deals with emotional problems.

cognitive performance – performance on mental tasks that involve planning, organising, remembering, focusing, or making decisions

cognitive training – a process that involves teaching the brain to plan, organise, remember, focus, or make decisions

conductive hearing loss – a type of hearing loss caused when there is a problem conducting sound waves anywhere along the route through the outer ear, eardrum, or middle ear.

confocal microscopy – microscopes enable us to view samples and objects that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. This technique uses light from a laser to illuminate a specimen and produce a magnified image.

congenital deafness – is a hearing loss that is present at birth.

corpus linguistics – a branch of science that studies language as expressed in samples of "real world" written or spoken language.

directional hearing – listening to a sound source in one spatial location.

discourse analysis – a branch of science that analyses “real world” written or spoken language, such as a newspaper article or a conversation. The main topic of interest is the underlying social structures, which may be assumed or played out within the text or conversation.

electroencephalography – records and analyses electrical activity on the scalp surface.

electron microscopy – microscopes enable us to view samples and objects that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. This technique uses a beam of electrons to illuminate a specimen and produce a magnified image.

electrophysiology – a technique for mapping brain activity by recording electrical field potentials produced by currents occurring naturally in the brain.

epidemiology – a branch of science that studies the distribution and determinants of health-related states or events (including disease), and applies this knowledge to the control of diseases and other health problems.

etiology – usually means either cause or the study of causation, or origination.

evoked auditory brainstem responses – recordings of the activity of neurons in the brainstem either in response to a sound or in response to stimulation of the auditory nerve using a cochlear implant.

functional magnetic resonance imaging – an imaging technique that enables scientists to identify patterns of brain activity.

glue ear – a common childhood condition in which the middle ear behind the ear drum becomes filled with a thick or sticky fluid. The medical term for glue ear is Otitis Media with Effusion. Symptoms include hearing loss.

grommets – a small tube inserted into the eardrum to allow air to get to the area behind the ear drum. Grommets are typically used in glue ear/otitis media with effusion as a way of drying up the middle ear fluid.

habilitation – the process of supplying a person with the means to develop maximum independence in activities of daily living through training or treatment.

human pitch processing – the process of encoding information about the pitch of sounds.

hyperacusis – a condition characterised by an over-sensitivity to certain sounds

in vitro – measurements of a biological sample taken in experiments carried out in the laboratory setting in an artificial environment that is outside the living organism.

incidence – a measure of the risk of developing some new condition within a specified period of time.

inter-regional connectivity – a measure of information processing across different regions in the human brain.

light microscopy – microscopes enable us to view samples and objects that cannot be seen with the unaided eye. This technique uses ordinary light from an incandescent bulb to illuminate a specimen and produce a magnified image.

liquid chromatography – a set of laboratory techniques for separating liquid mixtures. It is a specialised technique associated with production and study of antimicrobial biomaterials.

longitudinal – a research study design that involves repeated observations of the same variables over long periods of time.

magnetic resonance imaging – an imaging technique that enables scientists to visualise the structure of the brain.

magnetoencephalography – a technique for mapping brain activity by recording magnetic fields produced by electrical currents occurring naturally in the brain.

masking – the intentional introduction of background sound to improve comfort

mass spectrometry – an analytical technique that measures the mass-to-charge ratio of charged particles. It is a specialised technique associated with production and study of antimicrobial biomaterials.

mastoid cavities – refers to ear canals that have been surgically widened to treat chronic ear infections.

mastoidectomy – an operation to remove an infection or skin growth behind the eardrum together with the surrounding mastoid bone.

microbiology – the study of microscopic organisms.

microparticle production – a specialised technique associated with production and study of antimicrobial biomaterials.

multimodal – associated with different sensory modalities (hearing, vision, touch, smell etc).

near-infrared spectroscopy – an imaging technique that enables scientists to identify patterns of brain activity.

nested – an experimental design in which the variables have an implicit hierarchy.

neuroimaging – refers to the general technique of imaging activity in the brain, either in single neurons or whole brain regions.

neuroscience – relating to the science of the brain.

neurotology – a branch of clinical medicine which studies and treats neurological disorders of the ear.

olfactory – relating to the sense of smell

otitis media with effusion – a common childhood condition in which the middle ear behind the ear drum becomes filled with a thick or sticky fluid. The colloquial term for otitis media with effusion is glue ear. Symptoms include hearing loss.

otolaryngology – the branch of medicine and surgery that specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the head and neck. The full name of the specialty is otorhinolaryngology.

otology – a branch of biomedicine which studies normal and pathological anatomy and physiology of the ear (hearing and vestibular sensory systems and related structures and functions) as well as its diseases, diagnosis and treatment.

otorhinolaryngology – the branch of medicine and surgery that specialises in the diagnosis and treatment of disorders of the head and neck. Another name for this specialty is otolaryngology.

otoscopy – an examination that involves looking into the outer ear with an instrument called an otoscope

paediatric (US pediatric) – related to infants, children, and adolescents

particle sizing – a specialised technique associated with production and study of antimicrobial biomaterials.

phonemes – A phoneme is a basic elements of a spoken language which provide the building blocks for words

phonetics – a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech.

phonology – is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages

plasticity – the capacity for change

prelingual – before the development of speech and language

prospective cohort study – a study that follows a group of individuals (cohorts) over time to determine how different factors affect certain outcomes

psycholinguistic – related to the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language.

psychometric testing – a branch of science concerned with the theory and technique of psychological measurement, which includes the measurement of perceptual ability.

psychophysics – a branch of science studying the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound (including speech and music).

psychosocial – relates to an individual’s psychological development in, and interaction with, a social environment.

qualitative – descriptions or distinctions based on some quality or characteristic rather than on some quantity or measured value

randomised controlled trials – a study in which people are allocated at random to receive one of several clinical interventions

salicylate – a compound present in aspirin medications

sensorineural – relating to the inner ear, the nerve that runs from the ear to the brain (auditory nerve), or the brain.

signal processing – a branch of systems engineering, electrical engineering and applied mathematics that deals with operations on or analysis of signals, or measurements of time-varying or spatially-varying physical quantities

spatial hearing – the ability to tell where sounds are located, how far away sources of sounds are located, and the ability to attend to a sound at one location and ignore sounds from other locations.

spectro-temporal – relates to the time- and frequency-based properties of sound

spiral ganglion cell – the nerve cells located in the inner ear (cochlea) that help transmit the signals in the ear to the nervous central system.

spontaneous cognitive activity – brain activity relating to the ongoing stream of mental activity during conscious rest

structural equation modelling – uses various types of models to depict relationships among observed variables with the goal of providing a quantitative test of a theoretical model hypothesized by the researcher. i.e. to quantify or put a figure on the effect and interaction of factors.

supra-threshold deficits – performance deficits which are not related to audibility

tinnitus – a condition characterised by the perception of sound in the ear or head in the absence of corresponding external sound.

translational – translational research refers to the process of taking the results of research from the laboratory and applying them to patients in order to improve standards of health care and to increase the benefit that patients received from treatments.

Triplet Digits test – a screening test for hearing which uses spoken combinations of three digits, presented in a noise background

tympanometry – a test of middle-ear function which measures energy transmission through the middle ear

variable – any factor, trait, or condition that can exist in differing amounts or type.  Examples include things that can be measured.  Simple things include weight and height.  More complex examples, which can also be measured, include ability to pay attention to a task or level of hearing loss.

vestibular – pertaining to the balance functions of the inner ear.

vocoder – an analysis/synthesis system used to reproduce human speech.

working memory – a system which deals with the temporary storage and processing of information required to carry out complex cognitive tasks.