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Insight blog: Posts tagged with MRC Institute of Hearing Research

Stories about the people, science and research of the Medical Research Council.

What’s in a work space? Owen Brimijoin and his hearing research habitat

28 Jan 2016

Dr Owen Brimijoin is a Senior Investigator Scientist at the Scottish Section of the MRC Institute of Hearing Research in Glasgow, where his research investigates the relationship between hearing and the dynamic three-dimensional world around us. He showed Jane Bunce around his shared office at the Royal Infirmary in Glasgow, where his desk is no stranger to Lego.

Owen Brimijoin

© MRC/Douglas Robertson

Development rack

Development rack

© MRC/Douglas Robertson

People’s ability to tell where sounds are coming from declines with hearing impairment, and understanding speech in noisy rooms becomes harder. One in six people in the UK have a level of hearing loss that warrants a hearing aid, but they often don’t perform as well as desired. We examine this in four soundproof rooms of varying sizes, with floating floors, double steel doors and the walls covered with foam to suppress sound reflections. We use loudspeaker systems in these to control the source of the sound precisely or play multiple sounds from different directions, to simulate environments like a noisy restaurant.

Once you’re at full capacity running experiments you can’t go into the booths because they are booked up, so all the programming and testing for the next experiment has to happen here at my desk. So this is a mock-up of the system that runs the big ring of loudspeakers in one of our soundproof booths. [...]

Continue reading: What’s in a work space? Owen Brimijoin and his hearing research habitat

We need your ears

18 Dec 2013

Tony Colman (Image copyright: Hospital Records*)

Tony Colman (Image copyright: Hospital Records)

We know that exposure to loud noise can lead to hearing loss, with working in noisy environments long known as a culprit. But what effect has loud music had on the population’s hearing? Today we’re launching a mass participation study to see how our listening past affects our hearing present. Here Tony Colman, drum & bass DJ and co-founder of the Hospital Records label, tells us how exposure to loud music has affected his hearing ― and why you should take part in our online experiment so scientists can find out more.

How long have you been DJing for?

I’ve only been DJing for 17 years — before that I was playing guitar in several bands. I’ve been making music in the studio for 30 years.

What do you estimate your exposure to loud music to be?

It totally varies day to day. Many days nothing at all — at gigs, a lot — but I stuff my ears with silicone earplugs when I’m not playing myself.

Tell us about when you first realised you had tinnitus.

It was after we did a Hospital Records album launch at a drum & bass night called Movement at Bar Rumba in Piccadilly Circus. I remember thinking “what’s that ringing sound?”, and then I knew what it was. The system on that night was stupidly loud and I remember almost feeling pain in my ears. [...]

Continue reading: We need your ears

Getting naked for science

26 Oct 2012

Alan volunteering at The Big Bang Fair

Alan volunteering at The Big Bang Fair (Copyright: Alan Boyd)

Who are the Naked Scientists? And what’s it like to work with them? Alan Boyd, a PhD student from the MRC Institute for Hearing Research in Glasgow, found out on an eight-week MRC-funded foray into their audio world.

Call it what you will: science journalism; science communication; public engagement with science. Whatever the name, it’s about taking sometimes abstract, often difficult and almost always important discoveries in scientific research and making them accessible to the general public.

Over the past 10 years, the multi-award winning Naked Scientists radio show, podcasts, websites and live shows have become a major conduit through which people around the world receive their weekly dose of science.

The Naked Scientists occupy an office and a cupboard in the Department of Pathology at the University of Cambridge. Upon starting my internship, three things were clear. Firstly, this office had windows. As a PhD student in the depths of a hospital, that’s something I’d long ago dismissed as an unfathomable luxury. Secondly, lab meetings were to be replaced by strong coffee and continuously tight deadlines, flanked by publishing embargoes (which I nearly broke at least twice) and preparation for the radio show on a Sunday evening. Thirdly, the Naked Scientists remain disappointingly unfaithful to their name… [...]

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Celebrating 100 years

18 Sep 2012

Cartoon of Henry Dale, Almroth Wright and Harriette Chick from a book that will accompany the MRC centenary installation (Copyright: Lindsay McBirnie, commissioned by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre)

Cartoon of Henry Dale, Almroth Wright and Harriette Chick from a book that will accompany the MRC centenary installation (Copyright: Lindsay McBirnie, commissioned by the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre*)

It’s not often that you get to celebrate a 100th birthday, but the MRC will be doing just that in 2013. MRC Regional Communications Manager Jude Eades gives us the lowdown on the activities and events that we’ll be running in 2013 to showcase the work of the MRC.

Next year we’ll be celebrating a hundred years of life-changing discoveries and taking time to reflect on our achievements in medical research, acknowledging those who have supported us along the way and looking forward to what medical research will deliver in the future.

Throughout 2013 we’ll be running a series events to showcase our research successes and collaborations. You can experience life in a working laboratory, take part in experiments online, explore how past MRC discoveries have changed the way we live today, and most importantly, meet the scientists who make it all happen. There’ll certainly be something for everyone – here’s a taster of what’s in store. [...]

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Wallpaper, wax and paper DNA: the tools of a mini scientist

7 Aug 2012

Mini Scientists at the Edinburgh Science Festival

Mini Scientists at the Edinburgh Science Festival

MRC Regional Communications Manager Hazel Lambert reveals a little of what goes into preparing research for curious ‘mini scientists’, just one of the activities in which MRC researchers share their expertise with thousands of people at UK science festivals every year.

Edinburgh and Glasgow are flooded with rain so wellies are essential for walking in Scotland’s cities today. I leave mine at reception in the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit where I’ve come to meet researchers who’ve been developing a game they call Health and the City. I’m looking for new ideas for Mini Scientists, the MRC lab at the Edinburgh International Science Festival where MRC-funded researchers help kids aged seven and over explore stem cells, DNA and even cell-signalling with the help of play-doh and cuddly brain cells.

PhD student Gillian Fergie shows me a tower block and tenement she has improvised out of wooden blocks and laminated paper to represent Glasgow’s housing. Using a blank roll of wallpaper liner as our city backdrop, and interlocking sections of toy road, cars and trees, we think about how we can share public health research with festival-goers. [...]

Continue reading: Wallpaper, wax and paper DNA: the tools of a mini scientist