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Dr. Bernhard Ross

Dr. Bernhard Ross

Senior Scientist, Rotman Research Institute

Professor, Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto

Research Focus


My main research questions for the recent years were “What makes speech understanding difficult in aging?” (and how can we overcome those difficulties?) and “What is special to music, that we can apply to medicine?”. At the first glance, both questions seem mutually exclusive, however when studying the underlying neural mechanisms it becomes clear that both are strongly interconnected.

My research about speech understanding in noise is informed by the common complaint of elderly people that amplification with hearing aids restored sensation, specifically at high frequencies, which become more difficult to hear in older age. However, hearing aids did not help separating speech from noise and consequently improve understanding. Our previous research supported the hypothesis that hearing sensation and registration of sound at the brain level are sufficiently well preserved in elderly listeners, however the efficacy of neural processes for interpreting the sound, which then result in perception of the meaning of speech, is affected by age. Also neural processes of perception seems to be more vulnerable to noise in older than young adults. A broad part of my research is dedicated to identify neural mechanism underlying auditory perception and how those are affected by aging.

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