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Research Overview

Capita Foundation is a nonprofit organization that funds hearing research scientists with micro-grants to innovate. Our seed grants encourage researchers to think outside the box and explore fearlessly in prevention and cure of hearing disorders. Over the past decade of micro-grants our Capita awardees have averaged a 10 fold return with subsequent [NIH, NSF, etc] funding.

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CAPITA FOUNDATION - NEWS and EVENTS



Announcing 2015 Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) grant award recipients

Amanda Lauer, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of Otolaryngology


  




Project Title: “Optimizing hearing with top-down brain control of the ear.”  





Project Description

The overall goal of my research is to understand how auditory input from the ear affects the brain, and how the brain in turn affects the ear through efferent feedback loops. I am particularly interested in understanding the hearing disorders that develop when input to and from the brain is altered. We propose to study top-down efferent effects on hearing to understand how the brain controls the ear using optogenetic, behavioral, and immunohistochemical techniques in rodent models. Understanding how these pathways work may open up new treatment avenues for hearing disorders and will help us understand how hearing is optimized by top-down brain control of cochlear activity.


Medial (MOC) and lateral olivocochlear (LOC) neurons project from the brain to the ear and control information sent back to the brain. Adapted from Lauer et al. (2012). Neurobiology of Aging.


Sanjee Abeytunge

The Rockefeller University

Project Title:  "A Novel Micro-probe for Direct Stimulation of Cochlear Hair Cells




The ear is the fastest and most sensitive sensory organ in the human body. It can resolve data a thousand times faster than the eye and can detect vibrations in the environment at the atomic-scale. The dynamic range of human hearing embraces up to 120 dB of sound-pressure level (SPL). This dynamic range allows humans to hear a millionfold range of amplitudes. The frequency response of a human ear extends to 20 kHz while other mammals, such as whales and bats, can hear up to hundreds of kilohertz. However, the current stimulation probes of hair cells in the cochlea, the sense organ of the ear, to study the mechanics of the inner ear is limited to less than 1 kHz. This limitation leaves most of the mammalian auditory frequencies unstudied. This experimental limitation is due to the physical dimensions of the probes and their configurations used during experiments. My work is design and construction of a micrometer scale novel probe that will overcome the current frequency limitation.




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A World Without Barriers
"Hearing Hands", an ad campaign for Samsung of Turkey, brought the small suburban community of Bagcilar together for one man by the name of Muharram.  

With no more than a month of planning, Muharram became the center of an extraordinary stunt. Take a look below to see how Samsung heart-warmingly created a "World with no barriers".

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Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory," is a story of hope.  The captivating documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.



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When Sound and Touch Collide: A Little Synesthesia Exists in All of Us

Everyone knows the feeling -  the chills when you hear that one song, or the painful shivering at the sound of nails against a chalkboard.   Now, imagine if your body continuously heard sound through its skin.

Sherrilyn Roush is the first reported individual to have developed this form of synesthesia, a neurological mix-up of senses, after a stroke that left her numb in the left side of her body.  Researcher Tony Ro was lucky enough to study her incredible anomaly, and his theoretical findings are monumental.  He believes sense of hearing may have evolved from a sense of feeling, and that Roush’s merging of sound and touch is just an exaggerated version of what happens in all of our brains. Although speculative, it’s possible that what scientists now interpret as a merger of sound and touch might actually be a reflection of an earlier state in which the two senses were one.

Read the extraordinary story that led to this theory, here.

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Why Some Cultures Don't 'Mind' Auditory Hallucinations


An auditory hallucination is a form of hallucination that involves perceiving sounds without auditory stimulus.  Although an alluding stigma of mental disorders may cause you to think that auditory hallucinations rarely stray from harsh and threatening, 'voice-hearing' can be quite the contrary. 

A new study suggests that schizophrenic people in more collectivist societies sometimes think their auditory hallucinations are helpful. Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.