Emily Buss, PhD

Emily Buss, PhD, is an auditory science researcher involved in a range of projects investigating the perception of sound in human listeners. Many of these projects focus on special populations, including hearing-impaired adults and children, children with chronic otitis media (OME) and adult cochlear implant users. Other projects focus on normal-hearing adults and children, with the goal of developing normative models of auditory processing and development. Experimental methods used in these studies include traditional psychophysical paradigms based on behavioral responses, such as detection or discrimination, as well as evoked potentials and speech perception in a wide range of backgrounds. In many cases the resulting data can be incorporated into a computer-based model that formally characterizes different stages of auditory processing.

Dr. Buss is currently working on research initiatives aimed at understanding the effect of OME on the utilization of speech cues in different configurations masking noise, central neural plasticity in response to peripheral hearing loss, the importance of temporal cues in speech understanding, and the role of amplitude modulation across frequency in parsing a sound scene. Work is currently under way on verifying a model of the development of auditory processing based on internal noise; the goal of this work is to provide a uniform metric for comparing performance across a wide range of auditory tasks in school-aged children.

In addition to this laboratory work, Dr. Buss maintains an ongoing involvement in a number of cochlear implant and hearing aid investigations, for which she provides support in experimental design and analysis. One such project evaluates performance of hearing-impaired children fitted with frequency compression hearing aids; this project relies on collaboration with colleagues in UNC’s Division of Speech and Hearing, the Department of Otolaryngology and the CCCDP. She is also involved in a multidisciplinary study with UNC’s Department of Psychology using fMRI to characterize the cortical representation of sound in patients with normal hearing and with hearing loss.