Laboratory of Auditory Neuroscience & Neuroprostheses
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 of lost functions are observed when hearing loss sets in during childhood. Our lab investigates how congenital deafness affects the auditory system. We could show that in congenitally deaf animals feature sensitivity and representation of auditory space are degraded. Formation of auditory categories (“objects”) and control of auditory plasticity (learning) are further compromised, partly due to the malfunction of auditory microcircuits, leading 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. 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 and showed widespread adaptations of the brain to congenital deafness, also outside of the auditory system.

    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, together with Profs. K. Gordon (Univ. Toronto) and Y. Henkin (Univ. of Tel Aviv) 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 an optimal diagnosis and therapy of sensory loss tailored to the needs of the individual subject, by that eliminating this variability.

Lab members:
Dr. Peter Baumhoff 
Dr. Peter Hubka
Dr. Wiebke Konerding
Dr. Rüdiger Land
Dr. Laya Rahbar Nikoukar
Dr. Mika Sato
Christoph Berger, physician
Monique Hajduk, MUC.
Gunnar Quass, MSc. 
Mathias Voigt, MSc.
Prasandhya A. Yusuf, MSc.
Manuela Chambers 
Daniela Kühne
Eddy Kühne
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„The Lady and the Unicorn: Hearing“.

Unknown flamish artist, 15th century.

Prof. Andrej Kral

Director, Dept. of Experimental Otology

Hannover Medical School

Stadtfelddamm 34

D-30625 Hannover, Germany

Lab funding:

„Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft“

(DFG)


European Union


German Academic Exchange Service

(DAAD)


Industry grants:

MedEl Corp., Innsbruck, Austria

Advanced Bionics GmbH, Germany

Email:

Andrej Kral, MD, PhD

Chaired Professor of Auditory Neuroscience 
Medical University Hannover, Germany

Adjunct Professor of Cognition & Neuroscience 
The University of Texas at Dallas, USA
Graduation & PhD programsStudents_corner.htmlshapeimage_15_link_0
Adjunct lab member: Dr. Jochen Tillein
Vancant position 
PhD student, EEG VACANT_POSITIONS.html