Optimising fMRI methods for high-resolution cochleotopic mapping

Chief investigator

Professor Deborah Hall

Study team

Dr Dave Langers
Professor Richard Bowtell
Professor Alan Palmer (Retired)

Dr Sue Francis (Associate Professor, School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Nottingham)
Dr Katrin Krumbholz (Programme Leader, MRC Institute of Hearing Research)


NIHR Nottingham Hearing BRU programme

Study period


Hearing loss is thought to lead to a sequence of changes in the way that the neurons in the brain respond to sound input. For instance, following age-related high-frequency hearing loss, those areas of the brain that are tuned to the higher end of the frequency spectrum receive little input from the affected ears. In a process known as plastic reorganisation, the neurons in these areas may shift their response properties to the lower frequencies that have remained relatively intact.

We are interested in measuring these changes but first we need to optimise the methods used. In this project we developed high-resolution functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) mapping techniques that are able to reveal the organisation in the auditory cortex of individual listeners.

These techniques are now being used to further study the neural changes that take place following hearing loss and to identify the mechanisms that result in the perception of phantom sounds in tinnitus.
We have published the findings of this research in two open access journal articles:

Langers DRM,  Krumbholz K, Bowtell R, Hall DA (2014) Neuroimaging paradigms for tonotopic mapping (I): The influence of sound stimulus type. NeuroImage. Oct  100, 650-662. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.07.044.

Langers DRM, Sanchez-Panchuelo RM, Francis S, Krumbholz K, Hall DA (2014) Neuroimaging paradigms for tonotopic mapping (II): The influence of acquisition protocol. NeuroImage. Oct 100, 663-675. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroimage.2014.07.042. “