Chair of Auditory Neuroscience
Highlights of our work:
 
 

    Our research is focused on „nature and nurture“ in brain development, on developmental consequences of deafness, methods of its compensation by neuroprostheses and the adaptation of the brain to the neuroprosthetic stimulation. So far, the cochlear implant has been the clinically most successful neuroprosthetic device. We work on its further improvements and search for alternative ways of the stimulation of neurons in general, including stimulation within the central auditory system and the brain.

    As brain development depends on experience, the most devastating effects on the brain are observed when hearing loss sets in during childhood. We could show that in congenitally deaf animals feature sensitivity and representation of auditory space are degraded. Formation of auditory categories (“objects”), control of auditory plasticity (learning) and integration of sensory input into ongoing cortical activity are further compromised, partly due to the malfunction of auditory microcircuits. These deficits lead to the inability to compute errors between prediction about sensory input and actual sensory input. This prediction error drives learning in hearing-competent subjects. In congenital deafness, some of the auditory cortex is even recruited for non-auditory function (cross-modal reorganization). Congenital deafness consequently leads to widespread brain adaptations - the connectome model of congenital deafness. When hearing restoration takes place late in life, auditory learning capacity is reduced and deficits in representation of auditory input persist. We discovered the neural correlate of sensitive (critical) periods for cochlear implantation: the earlier in life cochlear implantation is performed, the faster and better is the adaptation of the primary auditory cortex to the implant and the more extensive is the compensation of the deficits induced by congenital deafness. We could uncover several neural mechanisms responsible for such sensitive periods.

    Recently, we described a reorganized brain representation of the ears following inborn single-sided deafness and were the first to demonstrate its neural correlate and a sensitive period for its therapy. It likely constitutes a clinical syndrome that we suggested to call aural preference syndrome. First data from implanted kids with single-sided deafness by many centers around the world support this suggestion.


    Outcomes of therapy of hearing are still characterized by large variability. Our goal is to built the scientific base for a comprehensive differnetial diagnosis and therapy of sensory loss tailored to the needs of the individual subject, by that eliminating this variability.

 

„The Lady and the Unicorn: Hearing“.

Unknown flamish artist, 15th century.

Prof. Andrej Kral

Director

Dept. of Experimental Otology & VIANNA

Stadtfelddamm 34

D-30625 Hannover, Germany

Email:

Our cooperationsCooperations.htmlCooperations.htmlshapeimage_14_link_0
Dr. Peter Baumhoff
Dr. Peter Hubka
Dr. Wiebke Konerding
Dr. Rüdiger Land
Dr. Mika Sato
Christoph Berger, physician
Dorota Habasinska, MSc.
Monique Hajduk, MUC.
Gunnar Quass, MSc.
Mathias Voigt, MSc.
Manuela Chambers
Daniela Kühne
Eddy Kühne

Lab funding:

„Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft“

(DFG)


European Union


National Science Foundation, USA

(collaboration with DLR, Germany)


German Academic Exchange Service

(DAAD)


Industry & foundation grants:

MedEl Corp., Innsbruck, Austria

Oticon Foundation, Denmark

Advanced Bionics GmbH, Germany

Andrej Kral, MD, PhD

Chaired Professor of Auditory Neuroscience
Hannover Medical School, Germany

Professor of Systems Neuroscience
Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia

Adjunct Professor of Cognition & Neuroscience 
The University of Texas at Dallas, USA

Member, German National Academy of Science
Adjunct Lab Members:
Dr. Jochen Tillein
Dr. Irina Schierholz
Dr. Prasandhya A. Yusuf