Welcome to the Special Issue on Dalhousie University!


As I write this, my mind is still on Meat Cove, where I was camping a just a few days ago—an oddly-named slice of paradise nestled in the Cape Breton highlands, where humpback whales play offshore as you relax with a campfire on the beach. It overlooks a wide swath of ocean and St. Paul's island, dangerously placed in the foggy shipping lanes between Europe and the St. Lawrence and responsible for at least 800 shipwrecks before lighthouses were erected in the nineteenth century. My grandfather worked there in the 1920s, before leaving to become a high-school teacher, so it was a special treat to be there.

It strikes me that lighthouses are an excellent symbol of the importance and value of communication and connection. Each one encodes a particular timed light pattern to identify itself, communicating a message that aids navigation and clarifies dangers obscured by darkness or fog. Audiologists do something similar by helping people hear through the ‘fog’ of hearing loss and helping them stay connected to what’s important. Scientists and teachers do something similar as well, so perhaps we’re all a bit like lighthouse keepers. 

In this issue, we have seven articles to show some of the exciting work ‘lighting-the-way’ at Dalhousie University. The first article dives into bird song research and shows how it can shed light on questions about how infants perceive speech. We then have two pieces on novel imaging technologies that are opening up new ways of observing auditory function: an optical coherence system for visualizing the middle ear, and an ultra-high-frequency ultrasound system for imaging auditory neural activity. This is followed by an article on the value of measuring the real-ear to coupler difference for pediatric threshold assessment, and a piece showing how new surgical approaches are changing hearing device implantation. Our last two articles discuss the Dalhousie Hearing Aid Assistance program, which has worked with the Lions Clubs to bring hearing aids to people who cannot afford them, and research briefs highlighting our projects on gene therapy, hidden hearing loss, and the impact of hearing loss on cognitive function. 

I hope that you enjoy this brief spotlight on Dalhousie and the rest of this issue of Canadian Audiologist, and that you all have a chance to see a lighthouse—perhaps at the conference in Halifax this fall!

About the author

Steve Aiken, PhD

Steve Aiken is an associate professor at the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders and the Departments of Surgery, Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University. He received a master’s degree in Audiology from the University of Western Ontario and a PhD in Medical Science from the University of Toronto. He is a past-president of the Canadian Academy of Audiology, founder of the Canadian Infant Hearing Task Force, associate editor of Canadian Audiologist, and co-chair of the Canadian Hearing and Auditory Research Translation group.