Ross Maddox receives the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award

September 2, 2022

Ross K. Maddox, Ph.D.

Congratulations to Professor Ross Maddox who recently received the NSF Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award! The CAREER award is the National Science Foundation’s most esteemed recognition for early-career faculty members, providing recipients with five years of funding to help lay the foundation for their future research. Ross's research will explain how our brain stems help us listen and converse in noisy settings.

Hearing one voice among many

After sound waves are converted into electrical signals in the ear, the signals are conveyed along an auditory brainstem to the brain’s cortex, where auditory perception occurs. But scientists are still trying to understand exactly how this “beautiful, but complicated network of connections” helps us focus our listening, says Maddox.

For example, do the downward connections that extend from the cortex back along the auditory brainstem help us concentrate on one voice among many?

To help answer questions like these, Maddox will use new methods to measure auditory brainstem responses in human subjects engaged in goal-oriented, lifelike tasks involving natural speech—not the rapid bursts of clicks and other stimuli used in traditional testing.

The results could help explain why even people with normal hearing sometimes struggle to understand conversations amid background noise.

Read More: Ross Maddox receives the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award


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