Purpose of the Site

Documenting the work of Eric Le Page, PhD, this website presents a cohesive hypothesis of hearing and disturbances to normal function.

Here you will find discussions, supporting data, and links to relevant publications which support a model of the mammalian cochlea which has optimally evolved to meet the challenge of harvesting sound information over a wide range of environments.

Classical hearing science is almost wholly concerned with acoustic pressures ranging from hearing threshold (0dB RE 20μPa) to instantly-damaging sound levels  (134dB RE 20μPa or 100Pa).  Acoustic pressures span different ranges of frequencies depending on the species (young humans typically from 20Hz to 20kHz, echo-locating bats from 1kHz to 150kHz, (ultrasound).

In another endeavour, the practitioners in the field of otology (ear, nose and throat) are instead concerned with why such a spectacular performance is lost, often simultaneously involving disturbances of the vestibular organ affecting the sense of balance.  The two major parts of the inner ear (the cochlea and the apparatus containing the semicircular canals) are integrated and connected by ducts containing fluid.  In turn that fluid is connected with our external environment through intra-cranial pressures and the pressure in the spinal cord.

All pressures, acoustic and environmental, are essentially the same physical quantity, except that environmental pressures are steady or slowly varying (infrasound).  Infrasound may not be audible, but it certainly can affect the steady conditions (homeostasis) in the inner ear.

The cross-discipline approach to understanding cochlear function makes use of longitudinal Otoacoustic Emission (OAE) data taken during Eric’s time at the Australia’s National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), showing as early as 1994 what the World Health Organisation now recognises as an epidemic of hearing loss (affecting some 360 million people worldwide), as well as animal pressure measurement studies (first at the University of Western Australia, then at Universite d’Auvergne, France).  The findings suggest that mammalian cochleas possess the ability to dynamically tension the basilar membrane in response to various stimuli: work with direct relevance to sensory hearing loss as well as balance syndromes such as Meniere’s disease.

Lastly, as a classically-trained musician with perfect pitch, Eric takes a keen interest in Music-Induced Hearing Loss (MIHL), Tinnitus, the effect of iPods and other personal music players, and other music related hearing phenomena.