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University of Rochester Investigators Attend the 2019 ARO MidWinter Meeting

Friday, February 22, 2019

The University of Rochester was well-represented at the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO)’s 42nd Annual MidWinter Meeting.  This prestigious academic conference brings together researchers and clinicians from around the world to present their work on diverse topics in the fields of Otolaryngology and Auditory Neuroscience.  Several UR Neuroscience Department investigators were on hand to share their findings with over 1500 colleagues at Baltimore’s Marriott Waterfront from February 9th to the 13th


Genetic signaling pathways underlying cochlear development, damage, and recovery were highlighted by the White and Kiernan labs.  Patricia White’s lab presented their work on hearing recovery within adult mouse cochlea after noise damage.  Jingyuan Zhang, a postdoctoral candidate, proposed activation of the ErbB signaling pathway as a means to promote hearing recovery and regeneration in the inner ear.  Holly Beaulac, a Neuroscience graduate student, discussed how the transcription factor FOXO3 may play a role in cochlear inflammatory regulation. 


Felicia Gilels, a CBD graduate student in Amy Kiernan’s lab, examined the role of the Notch signaling pathway in cochlear maturation.  Specifically, she presented work showing that loss of JAG1 leads to auditory neuropathy, caused by stereocilia defects in the inner hair cells.  These results indicate that hair cell regeneration by manipulating Notch should proceed cautiously, as clearly the postnatal roles of Notch are not fully understood.   


Ross Maddox’s lab investigates how multiple sensory stimuli can be processed and how distractions including noise can affect the efficacy of such input.  Lab members Madeline Cappelloni, a BME graduate student, and undergraduate Sara Fiscella explained the ways in which coherence of visual and auditory stimuli may be disrupted during task manipulation. 


See Ross Maddox’s research elevator pitch here:  Ross Maddox - #pitchARO


Yingxuan Wang, a BME graduate student in Ken Henry’s lab, described their investigation into inferior colliculus neural responses when birds attempt to detect tones in noise.  Laurel Carney and her students showcased their findings across five posters.  BME graduate student Langchen (Elsie) Fan provided physiological model simulations of comodulation masking release, or the ways tones can become easier to hear in noise, for individuals with and without hearing loss.  Paul Mitchell, a BME graduate student, helped characterize midbrain selectivity for direction and velocity during sound presentation.


In the realm of vestibular research, J. Chris Holt gave a podium talk on establishing the pharmacological tools to investigate the physiological role of mammalian vestibular efferents, the nerves that project from the central nervous system to the vestibular sensory cells. Benjamin Crane and undergraduate Raul Rodriquez discussed the adaptation of heading perception which is important for ambulation, navigation, and spatial orientation.  Daniel Martin, a medical resident in the Crane lab, presented his use of a novel virtual reality technique to adapt heading perception in cases of unilateral vestibular loss.


Art and science intersected in the neuroscience of music presentations.  Using EEG, Nathaniel Zuk, a postdoctoral candidate in Edmund Lalor’s lab, revealed specialized high-level processing of both speech and music.  Anne Luebke featured three posters focused on how musical training can influence one’s ability to discriminate between tones in noise.  She also highlighted ongoing collaborative work with Loisa Bennetto and Paul Allen on how musical aptitude can predict auditory filtering in young adults and children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.


ARO’s 2019 MidWinter Meeting provided an impressive showcase of promising areas of research in otolaryngology and auditory neuroscience.  We expect UR’s scientific impact to continue at next year’s meeting in San Jose, California!  



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Jingyuan Zhang, PhD at her Podium Talk with Patricia White, PhD moderating