Hannah embarked upon an Audiology BSc at the University of Manchester in 2010, after working with deaf people at the Glasgow charity Deaf Connections. She then undertook a summer research studentship in 2012, which gave her 10 weeks of lab experience, working on a hearing aid study supervised by Dr Piers Dawes. It also gave her the research bug, which (great for us) she has been unable to shake. A PhD was the only answer, and she jumped at the chance of an Action on Hearing Loss studentship at Manchester.
Five minutes with Hannah Guest...
What do you hope your research will achieve?
We hope to shed new light on the hearing difficulties some people experience (although their hearing thresholds appear normal).
Labelled with "King-Kopetzky Sydrome", "Obscure Auditory Dysfunction", "Auditory Processing Disorder", or sometimes even "Non-Organic Hearing Loss", these people are often left uncertain as to the underlying reasons for their symptoms and offered little in the way of management.
In light of recent dramatic findings in animals, we hope to gain insight into the role that may be played by cochlear nerve cell loss, and whether advances in hearing aid technology might be of benefit to these individuals with 'hidden' hearing loss.
What will the next big step forward be?
I can't be sure, but I do believe that it will take us 'beyond the audiogram'. For many years, hearing research has focused on cochlear function and audiometric thresholds. This fails to adequately reflect the hearing difficulties many listeners experience. Obviously, this relates closely to my work on hidden hearing loss, but it goes far beyond it. After all, any audiologist knows that people with hearing loss, who have identical audiograms, may experience very different difficulties with their hearing. Ultimately, I hope this broader perspective may lead to findings with dramatic practical implications for the assessment, treatment, and prevention of hearing loss.
Find out more about Hannah Guest's research project.