PhD Studentship in Understanding the Micromechanics of the Cochlea University of Southampton, Signal Processing & Control Group United Kingdom

PhD Studentship: Understanding the micromechanics of the cochlea


Signal Processing & Control Group


Location: Highfield Campus

Closing Date: Friday 19 January 2018

Reference: ISVR-SPCG-387

Many people suffer from hearing impairment and this often is due to a degradation of the mechanisms of transduction within the cochlea, which is part of the inner ear. Understanding the physical principles of how the healthy cochlea works is thus a crucial step towards helping overcome hearing impairment, as well as being an important scientific goal in its own right.


The cochlea converts the acoustic waveform at our ears into the neural signals that travel to our brain and allow us to hear. It has some remarkable mechanical properties, including an active mechanism that amplifies the amplitude of the wave that travels along the cochlea. It is known that this “cochlear amplifier” is powered by specialist outer hair cells, but the detailed way in which these cells interact mechanically with the other cells in the organ of Corti is not well understood.


Although theoretical models have been used for some time to try to understand this interaction, it has been impossible to validate these models, since there have been no measurements of the internal motion of the active organ of Corti. Recent animal measurements at several centers, using novel optical techniques, are now starting to reveal this motion for the first time. These measurements provide some excellent data on which to base new models of the micromechanics, the details of which could then be verified by further experiments.


This project will involve the development of a model of the micromechanics of the cochlea, involving the relative motion of the different parts of the organ of Corti, based on these recent measurements. It would mainly involve theoretical development and numerical simulation, although optimization techniques have recently been used to fit potential models to measured data from Stanford University. Collaboration with the research group at Brighton University is also envisaged, through a joint MRC programme grant.


If you wish to discuss any details of the project informally, please contact Prof Steve Elliott, ISVR, Email:, Tel: +44 (0) 2380 592384


To apply, please use the following link and select Faculty of Engineering and the Environment.

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Engineeroxy


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