Navigation Links
Lehigh researcher awarded $1.8 million NIH grant

BETHLEHEM, PA, March 17, 2009 -- Lehigh University assistant professor of neuroscience Michael Burger has been awarded a $1.8 million grant from the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders for his research entitled "Efferent Inhibitory Mechanisms in Binaural Processing." The five-year grant will allow Burger to build upon the preliminary data he first collected under a grant he received from the Deafness Research Foundation for his work on "Efferent Function in Sound Localization Processing."

"I'm very excited about this grant because it provides the funds to ensure the long-term viability of my lab and gives me the resources I need to attack my research agenda," says Burger. "It's very validating to have people in my field appreciate my work and my approach to auditory neuroscience."

Burger is interested in how the auditory system processes sound information. The ear and the brain work in tandem to determine the location of sound, relying on a specialized neural circuit in the brain devoted to the process. The brain is able to compute where sound comes from by determining when a sound wave strikes each ear. Auditory neurons can detect the tiny microsecond differences in arrival time of a sound between the two ears. This system also has to function over a wide range of sound intensities, making this computation particularly challenging.

"I am extremely impressed with the way Mike investigates fundamental cell-to-cell processes in deciphering how the brain detects the location of sounds," says Murray Itzkowitz, professor and chair of Lehigh's biological sciences department. "While the hearing health implications of his research are clear, I see his program as providing a model to explore many complex aspects of brain function and that too explains why the NIH is so interested in his program."

The research centers on the question of how cellular, synaptic, and systems level properties are integrated to allow sensory neurons to extract and represent features of the acoustic environment. The grant will enable Burger to further explore how the inhibitory components of the circuit influence processing in each brain area involved in computing sound source location.

Burger and the other members of his lab work with chickens, which have brain circuitry similar to human brain structures. Chickens also serve as good developmental models because researchers are able to study hearing at any stage. Over the long term, Burger hopes to use the findings gleaned from his work with chickens to build a mechanistic understanding of sound localization circuitry in vertebrate systems.

Burger first began studying hearing at a bat auditory neuroscience lab while a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin and later started working with birds as a senior postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Washington. In 2005, he was awarded a prestigious Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship at the University of Munich. Burger joined the Lehigh faculty in 2006.

While this research may be fundamental in nature, its contributions could play a significant role in clinical applications. Understanding how normal brain circuits function can help develop or improve prosthetic devices such as cochlear implants. These electronic devices substitute for damaged structures in the ear that may not function properly, and can restore hearing to deaf patients.

Although a lot is known about the process of how information moves from the ear to the brain, less is understood about efferent feedback the information that travels from the higher regions of the brain back to lower processing centers. Burger says that current prosthetic devices don't take into account any such feedback.

"We're investigating basic principles of brain physiology how synapses and neural circuits function as well as how they are regulated," says Burger. "But without a long history of this kind of research, devices like cochlear implants would never have been developed."


Contact: Tricia Long
Lehigh University

Related biology news :

1. Carnegie Mellon researchers apply new statistical test
2. Regulatory molecule for tumor formation or suppression identified by Singapore, US researchers
3. K-State researchers help Epitopix license the United States first E. coli O157 vaccine for cattle
4. Researchers take first look at the genetic dynamics of inbreeding depression
5. K-State biologist collaborating with researchers in Africa on grassland sustainability, biodiversity
6. Researchers identify new way the malaria parasite and red blood cells interact
7. Iowa State researchers developing clean, renewable energy for ethanol industry
8. Researchers discover gene mutations that cause childhood brain cancer
9. Pitt researchers describe molecular 2-step leading to protein clumps of Huntingtons disease
10. Climate change affecting Europes birds now, say researchers
11. Prominent climate researcher to speak at UH on global warming March 5
Post Your Comments:
(Date:4/28/2016)... First quarter 2016:   , ... the first quarter of 2015 The gross margin was ... 18.8) and the operating margin was 40% (-13) Earnings ... flow from operations was SEK 249.9 M (21.2) , ... SEK 7,000-8,500 M. The operating margin for 2016 is ...
(Date:4/15/2016)...  A new partnership announced today will help ... in a fraction of the time it takes ... life insurance policies to consumers without requiring inconvenient ... Diagnostics, rapid testing (A1C, Cotinine and HIV) and ... weight, pulse, BMI, and activity data) available at ...
(Date:3/31/2016)... , March 31, 2016   ... ("LegacyXChange" or the "Company") LegacyXChange is excited ... of its soon to be launched online site for ... ) will also provide potential shareholders a ... DNA technology to an industry that is notorious for ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016  Blueprint Bio, a company ... to the medical community, has closed its Series A ... Nunez . "We have received a commitment ... capital we need to meet our current goals," stated ... us the runway to complete validation on the current ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... CA (PRWEB) , ... June 23, 2016 , ... ... software, is exhibiting at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and will showcase its product’s ... conference. ClinCapture will also be presenting a scientific poster on Disrupting Clinical Trials ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... -- Amgen (NASDAQ: AMGN ) today announced a ... sciences incubator to accelerate the development of new therapies ... QB3@953 was created to help high-potential life science and ... stage organizations - access to laboratory infrastructure. ... "Amgen Golden Ticket" awards, providing each winner with one ...
(Date:6/22/2016)... Research and Markets has announced the addition of the ... The global biomarkers market has ... The market is expected to grow at a five-year compound annual ... $50.6 billion in 2015 to $96.6 billion in 2020. ... to 2020) are discussed. As well, new products approved in 2013 ...
Breaking Biology Technology: