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Portrait of Hearing Impaired

Doctoral student Chris Bishop ’05 is studying how what you see impacts how you hear.

Other people talking, traffic noise, dogs barking — such distractions can make speech difficult for anyone to understand, but especially for the hearing impaired. And since environmental noise can’t always be controlled, Bishop’s research at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain is all the more important for those with hearing impairments.

Bishop, a doctoral student at UC Davis, is studying how visual cues, such as a person’s mouth movements, impact a their ability to hear and understand what’s being said to them.

“Once a person has visual cues, those cues help shape what they hear and where they hear sounds” Bishop said. “By figuring out what’s important for people to understand speech, beyond acoustics, we can figure out ways to help them communicate better.”

Bishop, whose research is supported by a fellowship established by Marjorie and Charles Elliot and by the ARCS Foundation, hopes his research will lead to the creation of cheaper equipment for people to get hearing diagnoses and help those with hearing impairments have access to better listening tools, such as hearing aids.

He said the facilities, cross-department collaboration and scholarly experience of faculty mentors and other graduate students at UC Davis make it the best place for him to conduct his research.

“If I didn’t have access to the impressive resources and facilities at UC Davis, my research would not be progressing as quickly as it is.” In addition, he said, “Funding is really tough to come by in my field, especially now. Without the fellowship, I wouldn’t be able to do what I do.”