James Madison University

C(SD)2 - Computational, Speech, Sensory, Development & Diseases Lab

[pronounced “CSD-two lab”]

Focus of Lab

Collaborative efforts in this lab investigate environmental and genetic influences on the normal and abnormal development of hearing and auditory processing disorders. Parallel projects in various species (humans, mice, chickens, and quail) attempt to uncover general principles of hearing development. Current research involves the effects, ototoxic drugs, noise, early experience, and genetics on the development of hearing acuity, attention deficits, and more complex auditory processing. Various methods of minimizing auditory perceptual disorders – such as stimulant medication, enriched rearing, and training and intervention– are investigated.

Computational Models of Disease Spread

See http://www.csd.jmu.edu/csdsquared/ for explanations and interactive visualizations of oral and breast cancer metastases, vaccination rates in developing countries, and immigration.  This innovative method, called ‘constructed cartography,’ is basically some math from hearing science applied to very different purposes.

Animal Models of Genetic/Environmental Influences on Hearing

We investigate environmental and genetic influences on the development of hearing. Current research involves the effects of ototoxic drugs, early experience, nutrition, and genetics on the development of hearing acuity, attention deficits, and more complex auditory processing. We have bred two strains of quail that have high and low levels of distraction masking (the avian analogy of a trait that we see in children with ADHD).
Collaborating with Dr. Ryals, we are exploring the effects of early hearing loss and its recovery through hair-cell regeneration in quail as a possibly useful animal model of early deafness and its treatment. Collaborating with Dr. Mark Gabriele of the JMU biology department, we are using a mouse model to investigate the roles of specific signally proteins (Eph receptors) on the development of hearing.

Human Studies of Sounds that are Distracting

cognitive aural atresia

Collaborating with Dr. Robert Nagel in the JMU School of Engineering and with Dr. Bradley Kesser at the University of Virginia, we are investigating how people with newly functional hearing are able to avoid being distracted by those new inputs.


Director: Lincoln Gray

Other Faculty:


  • Brian Allen, SoE Undergraduate
  • Amy Byers, CSD Undergraduate
  • Sofia Ganev, CSD Honors Student
  • Brittany Harwell, SoE Undergraduate
  • Emily Garret, CSD Undergraduate
  • Brandon Lancaster, SoE Undergraduate
  • Andrea Liuzzo, Au.D. Candidate
  • Kristie Meehan, Au.D. Candidate
  • Michael Kessler, SoE Undergraduate
  • Laura O’Conner, CSD Undergraduate
  • Bethany Magee, Au.D. Candidate
  • Sophia Patrikis, CSD Undergraduate
  • Bryna Rickenbach, Au.D. Candidate
  • Hillary Scott CSD Undergraduate
  • Johathan Smith, SoE Undergraduate
  • Nicole Spielsinger, CSD Honors Student
  • Julie Vest, CSD Undergraduate
  • Tyler Vick, CSD Undergraduate

Current Projects in the lab; sources of funding

  • “The Many Benefits of Working with New Zealand Otolaryngologists”, Competitive Research Grant, JMU, 2011.
  • “Travel to Stockholm”, CISAT Mini-grant, 2011, to work on breast cancer models at the Karolinska Hospital
  • Co-Principal Investigator (M. Gabriele PI).  Establishing complex auditory circuits:  Molecular mechanisms and functional implications for treating the hearing impaired.  Commonwealth Health Research Board (#1 proposal in VA in 2009).  7/1/2009-6/30/2011. 
  • Co-Principal Investigator, (B. Kesser, M.D., PI) Surgical Repair of Unilateral Congenital Aural Atresia, Richmond Eye and Ear Foundation, 2009-2010.