Will hearing screening at 3 years improve outcomes for children?

Principal Investigator: Prof Suzanne Purdy, University of Auckland

Associate Investigators :Prof Randall Morton, A/P Alain C Vandal, Louise Dickinson, Nelson Balisa, Christine Lynch, CMDHB

Counties Manukau District Health Board children have high rates of unrecognised hearing loss and ear disease, affecting about a quarter of two to three year olds. Newborn hearing screening detects permanent hearing loss at birth but can miss later hearing loss associated with ear infections and glue ear, and progressive hearing loss. NZ children have their hearing tested at age four, in preparation for school. By this stage children with ear/hearing problems may have significant speech/language or other delays if they have not been treated. This research will assess feasibility of objective hearing testing at age three, in preparation for a future trial assessing whether screening at age three improves outcomes compared to the current four-year-old screen.

Dizziness and misalignment between the visual and balance systems when the balance system is damaged.

Principal Investigator: Shikha Chaudhary, AUT

Associate Investigators: Prof Denise Taylor and Dr Nicola Saywell, AUT


Dizziness is the second most common symptom for which people seek medical attention. In about a quarter of people with moderate to severe dizziness, the cause is dysfunction of the balance system.  Motion sensitivity can arise when there is a misalignment between the visual system and the balance system and can lead to dizziness. This project will look at visual fixations which maintains our gaze on a single object and how these are affected in patients with motion sensitivity following damage to the balance system.

Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea affect hearing?

Principal Investigator:  Irene Cheung, University of Auckland

Associate Investigators: Prof Peter Thorne, University of Auckland, Dr Michel Neeff and Dr Syed Hussain, ADHB, Dr Ulrich Sommer, Universitat Witten


Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA), a condition characterized by the collapse of the upper airway during sleep has been extensively linked to diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and mortality. However, its possible association with hearing disorders has not been widely investigated. This project will investigate the occurrence of OSA with hearing dysfunctions and the potential benefit of Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy. Not only would this study increase the awareness of concurrent OSA and hearing dysfunction, CPAP could be used as an alternative non-invasive therapy for patients with hearing disorders.

Can we treat tinnitus by combining stimulation of head and neck nerves with sound?

Principal Investigator: A/P Yiwen Zheng, University of Otago

Associate Investigators: Prof John Reynolds, Prof Ming Zhang, Prof Paul Smith, Prof Dirk De Ridder, University of Otago


Chronic tinnitus, a phantom sound, is a debilitating condition and produces many detrimental effects on the quality of life. However, treatment options are very limited and not effective. This research will test a stimulation protocol for tinnitus by pairing sound with electrical stimulation of the somatosensory system, in an animal model of tinnitus.  The results will significantly improve our current understanding of tinnitus and may lead to the development of effective therapies for tinnitus.