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.

Your generosity invents. Learn how you can help.  


Sailing to Honor Capita Grant Recipients and 37th ARO MidWinter Meeting
On Monday, February 24th, a group of  Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) awardees boarded the Shine On schooner loaded with beer and tamales to sail San Diego Bay.

The best hearing researchers and scientists were in town for the 37th ARO Meeting, a conference showcasing innovative and advancing research in Otolaryngology, which took place February 22-26 in San Diego's sunshine.

A very special thanks goes out to Dockmaster Neil Wilson, of Fifth Avenue Landing, for making this event possible.

Northwestern's Claus-Peter Richter, M.D., Ph.D. led talks about decreases in  federal funding for research.  Looking to private sources as well as how to get out the good word about Capita and other private foundations were among the proposed solutions discussed.  Alyssa Wheeler, Ph.D., suggested we show the significance of all this great work in a Youtube, e.g. Boy Hears for the First Time.

Aboard the Shine On schooner, after beer and tamales


Infant Sleep Machines at Maximum Volume Reported as Hearing Risk

Sound devices used to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday. 

Researchers at the University of Toronto evaluated 14 popular sleep machines at maximum volume and found they produced between 68.8 to 92.9 decibels at 30 centimeters, about the distance one might be placed from an infant’s head. Three exceeded 85 decibels, the workplace safety limit for adults on an eight-hour shift for accumulated exposure (NIOSH). At 100 centimeters, all the machines tested were louder than the 50-decibel limit averaged over an hour set for hospital nurseries in 1999 by an expert panel concerned with improving newborn sleep and their speech intelligibility.
“Farther away is less dangerous, a lower volume is better and shorter durations of time, all things that deliver less sound pressure to the baby,” Dr. Papsin said. Yet some models are designed to be affixed to the crib.
A concern is whether listening to white noise can be detrimental to auditory development. A 2003 study (Science) found continuous white noise delayed development of the brain’s hearing center in newborn rats. In humans, the brain of a newborn is learning to differentiate sounds at different pitches even during sleep, said Lisa L. Hunter, scientific director of research in the division of audiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “If you’ve conditioned them to white noise...they might not be as responsive as they otherwise should be to soft speech,” she said.
 (original article by Catherine Saint Louis from March 3, 2014 New York Times)
When Hands Talk, Be Careful Where You Point
Written by Nina Raine, “Tribes” is a comic drama about that revolves around Billy, a young deaf man at odds with his intellectual and argumentative working-class family in London. Some posters feature American Sign Language, which is used in the show, and display different design approaches.

(original New York Times article by Erik Piepenburg)
Upcoming ASL Tour at the Museum of Photographic Arts
On Saturday, March 8, 2014, the Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA) will be offering American Sign Language Tours for their current exhibitions, Prix Pictet: Power (February 1 - May 18) and Lynn G. Frayman: A Colorful Life (February 8 - May 11).

Tours at 11:00 AM & 2:00 PM, both conducted in ASL ONLY
Admission Cost: $4.00

The program, coordinated by MOPA's Jazmyne Lemar and a Deaf volunteer, features D/HH (deaf/hard of hearing) docents and has met wonderful success, tripling in local support within a year! Additional ASL tours, both at other Balboa Park institutions and park-wide, are currently in the works thanks to Ms. Lemar's catalytic efforts with support from Capita Foundation. Our San Diego D/HH community is so fortunate to have volunteers and programs with such vision.

1649 El Prado Street San Diego, CA 92101
The mission of the Museum of Photographic Arts is to inspire, educate and engage the broadest possible audience through the presentation, collection, and preservation of photography, film, and video. 
If you have any question, please do not hesitate to contact Jazmyne Lemar at or 619.238.7559 x230.
Seeing Less Helps The Brain Hear More

A few days in the dark can improve an animal's hearing by triggering favorable changes in areas of the brain that process auditory information.

Patrick Kanold, a researcher at the University of Maryland and one of this study's authors, believes there may be a new way to help people with auditory processing disorders. His work builds on research showing that people who are blind from birth can often do remarkable things with their other senses.
In his study, mice that were kept in the dark had neurons with increased sound sensitivity and stronger connections for auditory information in their brains. A lack of input in the visual cortex seemed to be causing changes in the auditory cortex, which is astounding because there is no known direct anatomical connection between the two areas. It seems that the brain is less hard-wired that previously thought, remaining plastic into adulthood.

(Original article by Jon Hamilton; pictures by Rosanne Skirble)