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Welcome to SPARC!

Speech Perception and Auditory Research at Carolina 

The SPARC Lab is located on the campus of UNC Chapel Hill. Our primary testing sites are in Marsico Hall, MacNider Hall, and Bondurant Hall. We study hearing in children and adults to better understand auditory development, speech perception, spatial hearing, and the effects of hearing loss on these processes.

It is easy to take hearing for granted, but hearing involves a number of complex processes. Sound passes through the ear canal and middle ear to reach the inner ear, where it is transformed into a neural code and sent to the brain. Medical conditions that interrupt the transmission of sound through the ear canal or middle ear, or cause problems in the inner ear can result in hearing loss. Encoding sound into a neural code is just the beginning of hearing– previous experiences, attention, and expectations also shape the way we hear.

In the SPARC Lab we use behavioral measures to study these factors that affect hearing. Some of our studies focus on obtaining normative hearing data from children and adults. Others are aimed at understanding how hearing loss influences auditory perception. Our results may lead to enhancements in clinical assessment of hearing and how sounds are delivered to infants and children who are hard of hearing.