Institute of Hearing research areas


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If these grades are not met, English preparatory courses are available
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Research overview

Research opportunities at The Institute of Hearing Research are related to the Institute’s two key goals:

Investigating the mechanisms of central auditory function

We use a wide range of methodologies to examine the mechanisms of how the brain processes sounds and how auditory processing is modulated by learning and attention. Single- and multi-cell recordings are used to investigate how auditory information is processed in cortical and subcortical structures and how activity in these structures is modulated by top-down control from the auditory cortex or higher-order cortical fields.

We are also developing methods for recording auditory neural activity from awake, behaving animals to study the neural correlates of sound perception and auditory attention.

In humans, neuroimaging techniques [functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), electro- and magnetoencephalography (EEG/MEG)], psychophysical testing and neurocomputational modelling are used to investigate basic auditory functions such as sound localisation, or the perception of musical pitch or loudness, and to explore the mechanisms of plasticity resulting from auditory training and adaptation to hearing loss. Neuroimaging is also used to explore higher-level cognitive factors in hearing, such as multi-modal integration and auditory attention.

Developing diagnostic and therapeutic tools for hearing disability

Many of the research projects conducted at IHR are either directly or indirectly related to issues of hearing disability and its diagnosis and remediation.

One project, which will be conducted in collaboration with the ENT Department of the Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, seeks to investigate how deaf patients, whose hearing has been restored by means of auditory prostheses (cochlear implants), perceive and process sounds, and how these devices could be improved to enhance their performance.

Another project explores how speech perception in deaf and hearing-impaired patients can be improved by lip reading, the eventual goal being to develop a specialised training scheme for improving lip-reading ability in these patients. A project conducted at the Glasgow Royal Infirmary examines why hearing impairment often leads to particular difficulties in understanding speech in noisy every-day listening situations. Finally, a project conducted in collaboration between the University and Clinical Sections of IHR in Nottingham seeks to investigate the role of auditory processing deficits in developmental speech and language disorders, such as dyslexia. The aim of this project is to find new methods for diagnosing these deficits and to develop auditory training schemes to remediate them.



IHR boasts a wide range of state-of-the-art facilities for neuroscientific research, including recording equipment for conducting single- and multi-unit recordings, not only in the anesthetised but also in the behaving animal, and cell-labelling and tracing techniques for neuroanatomical mapping; IHR has four sound-insulated rooms for psychophysical testing in human subjects, as well as first-hand access to an echo-free room for free-field auditory testing. IHR has a magnetic-resonance- (MR-) compatible EEG recording system and has direct access to the 3-T fMRI system at the MR Centre of The University of Nottingham. IHR also has access to the new 275-channel MEG system recently acquired by the MR Centre. Researchers at IHR also benefit from an exceptional level of engineering and computer support, having at their disposal a first-class electronics workshop and computer support team, as well as a dedicated statistician to help with data analysis problems.

Other facilities

IHR provides a particularly friendly and convenient research environment; it has its own library, a newly refurbished staff room and seminar room, as well as an outside patio area with BBQ facility.


Research support

IHR is dedicated to training and developing all its staff to full potential and has recently obtained Investors in People status. PhD students can expect to be trained in the key scientific techniques of their field, as well as in generic skills, such giving presentations and writing papers. They have access to training courses organised by The Students' Union and the courses organised by MRC Head Office. We also deliver in-house courses and send students to workshops organised by our commercial suppliers of neuroscience equipment. Each year, IHR students have several opportunities to build on their presentation skills. In December, we hold a students’ day, where every student presents a short talk about their work. In May, we organise a retreat for students and their supervisors, held in pleasant surroundings, such as the peak or lake district, where students can again report and discuss their work. IHR students also have full access to the University support services.

Find a supervisor

We encourage you to get in touch with a member of academic staff about your research proposal before submitting an application. They may be able to help you with your proposal and offer support to find funding opportunities in your area. Details of research supervisors at the University can be found on our research A to Z.


Other facilities

We offer four MRC-funded studentships every year to students who are currently resident in the UK, and who have a background in brain sciences, such as neuroscience or psychology, or, equally, in a more technical fields, such as mathematics, physics or engineering. The award includes a stipend (currently £12,608 pa), tuition fees and travel costs for the attendance of scientific conferences. Suitable candidates will be invited for interview, which are usually held during the spring term.  

Moreover, the University Graduate School operates two schemes of its own to help support current postgraduate research. The Graduate School Travel Prize and Universitas21 funding

The Graduate School also holds a list of other sources of funding. Studentship opportunities are also available.



Visit the School page for additional opportunities

Career Prospects and Employability

Those who take up a postgraduate research opportunity with us will not only receive support in terms of close contact with supervisors and specific training related to your area of research, you will also benefit from dedicated careers advice from our Careers and Employability Service. Individual guidance appointments, career management training programme, access to resources and invitations to events including skills workshops and recruitment fairs are just some of the ways in which they can help you develop your full potential, whether you choose to continue within an academic setting or are looking at options outside of academia.

Availability for employment and salary data for this institute is not attainable from our known destinations of full-time home and EU postgraduates, 2013/2014 survey.


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Institute of Hearing research areas

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This online prospectus has been drafted in advance of the academic year to which it applies. Every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate at the time of publishing, but changes (for example to course content) are likely to occur given the interval between publishing and commencement of the course. It is therefore very important to check this website for any updates before you apply for the course where there has been an interval between you reading this website and applying.

Dr Katrin Krumbholz
MRC Institute of Hearing Research
Nottingham University Section
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