Hearing loss


At a glance

Does the hippocampus support hearing in predictable background sounds?

Lead researcher

Dr Joseph Sollini


University of Nottingham



Amount awarded


Last updated



Dr Joseph Sollini wants to understand better how different parts of the brain are involved in hearing when we are faced with background noise.

Dr Joseph Sollini Small Dr Joseph Sollini

If somebody asked you, “What do we need in order to hear?”, your first thought would probably be “our ears!".

It’s obviously true that we cannot hear without our ears, but in many listening situations we also rely heavily on our brain to hear as well.

An example of this is when we are in a noisy room, say a busy restaurant, and are trying to hear your friend talking. In this type of situation the brain can use a range of strategies to improve your ability to hear - one such strategy is by making predictions.

Our brains can often predict a noisy background sound by learning the important features of a particular environment and storing a copy of it in memory - for example, the background hum of a busy restaurant.

Dr Joseph Sollini from the University of Nottingham has built on other research with his own studies, showing that we not only quickly learn important features in sounds, but we can use this information to make predictions that improve our ability to hear in that sound.

Dr Sollini's research has shown that the auditory cortex (an important hearing region) plays a critical role. In this project, Dr Sollini's team will explore how the hippocampus, another brain region, may be involved in learning sound information.

To do this, the team will “switch off” different parts of the hippocampus and measure how this affects the auditory cortex’s ability to detect sounds in noisy backgrounds.

This project will increase our understanding of the brain regions involved in hearing-in-noise but may also improve our understanding of the relationship between hearing and memory related disorders, such as dementia.

  • What is 'hearing-in-noise'?

    Hearing-in-noise is the ability to identify auditory information when background noise is present.

    The Hearing in Noise Test (HINT) is a hearing test which measures a person’s ability to hear speech in quiet and in noise.