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Leading hearing experts join the University of York

Posted on 15 December 2003

Professor Quentin Summerfield is to join York's 6* Psychology Department as part of the University's research expansion. His appointment is one of several specially created 40th Anniversary Chairs.

The University of York announced today (8 December) the first of its new professors appointed as part of a major research expansion.

The University announced in June this year that it hoped to appoint up to 10 new professors to celebrate its 40th anniversary in 2003. The University expects to make further appointments shortly.

Professor Quentin Summerfield is currently the deputy director of the Medical Research Council's Institute of Hearing Research in Nottingham. He is an international expert on hearing and hearing disorders. He has a particular interest in cochlear implantation - a treatment which places electrodes in the inner ear in order to stimulate the nerve of hearing directly to enable deaf people to hear sounds. Professor Summerfield's report to the Government helped establish cochlear implantation as one of the treatments that are now provided to deaf people by the National Health Service.

Professor Summerfield has also contributed to an understanding of the processes by which listeners extract speech from background noise. In recognition of this work, he was elected a fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

In York, Professor Summerfield will combine these interests with the University's strengths in developmental psychology, psychophysics, and the health sciences, and with the University's initiative in creating a world-leading centre for neuro-imaging. As well as continuing to study methods for measuring the quality of life of people with impaired hearing, he will initiate a programme on the development of spatial hearing in children, with the goal of identifying ways of improving those skills in children who find spatial hearing a challenge, including children who hear using cochlear implants.

Professor Summerfield will work closely alongside Professor Gary Green, who joins the University of York to become Professor of Neuroimaging and Director of the York Neuroimaging Centre, a £4 million project which will develop non-invasive methods for studying the neural activity of the brain, uniquely combining the use of MRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), and MEG (magneto-encephalography) with eye movement recording.

Professor Green is currently Director of Neuroscience at the University of Newcastle where his primary research interest is in how the human auditory system analyses acoustic patterns, including speech and music. This work will help to shed light on fundamental brain mechanisms and provide potential tools for characterizing common neurological conditions such as autism and dementia.

His work has extended from mathematical modelling and analysis of the biophysics of neural systems through to non-invasive imaging of the human brain. He is a member of the Wellcome Trust NeuroScience Panel.

Commenting on the appointment, Professor Andy Young, Head of the Psychology Department at the University of York, said: "Quentin Summerfield's research combines state-of-the-art neuroscience with applied work on cochlear implants of the highest standing and importance. Combining this with Gary Green's expertise in brain imaging of adults and children using the most sophisticated modern methods, and other developments in the University, gives York the opportunity to become an international centre of excellence for interdisciplinary research on hearing."

Notes to editors:

  • The Centre for Neuroimaging will develop non-invasive methods for studying the neural activity of the brain, uniquely combining the use of MRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging), and MEG (magneto-encephalography), with eye movement recording. The Centre will significantly improve understanding of how language, vision, memory, and motor control work together to allow us to interact with the world around us. This will increase insight into childhood and adult disorders in psychological functioning.
  • The Centre will lead international excellence in human neuroscience, pulling together outstanding scientists and allow a particularly sensitive system to be commissioned. Neuroscience has been identified as a priority subject for study at the University and the new centre will bring together a wide range of departments including Psychology, Computer Science, Electronics and Chemistry.
  • The York Neuroimaging Centre is to be created as one of five new research centres at the University of York which will funded partly by £12.5 million from the Government's Science Research Infrastructure Fund.

Contact details

David Garner
Senior Press Officer

Tel: +44 (0)1904 322153