Jennifer R. Melcher, Ph.D.

Harvard Medical School

Associate Professor of Otolaryngology

Massachusetts Eye and Ear

Associate Scientist

Research Summary

Research Area Affiliations

Research Summary

Dr. Melcher’s current work focuses on the clinical problem of tinnitus, a condition often called “ringing in the ears” and formally defined as the perception of sound in the absence of any physical stimulus. While generally viewed as an “ear problem,” the auditory brain, as well as somatosensory and limbic systems, are also key players. Dr. Melcher’s lab is (1) using brain imaging (fMRI, evoked potentials) to test several hypotheses regarding the neural bases of tinnitus, including its association with hyperactivity in the CNS, and (2) examining the function of the auditory periphery in ways designed to detect subtle, but crucial, tinnitus-related activity. A next step will be to integrate physiological measures of brain and ear function into clinical trials with the goal of identifying physiologically-distinct tinnitus subtypes responsive to different treatments.

Select Publications

Brainstem auditory evoked potentials suggest a role for the ventral cochlear nucleus in tinnitus. Gu, J.W., Herrmann, B.S., Levine, R.A., Melcher, J.R. J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. 2012; 13: 819-833.

BOLD responses in human auditory cortex are more closely related to transient MEG responses than sustained ones. Gutschalk, A., Hamalainen, M.S., Melcher, J.R. J. Neurophysiol. 2010; 103: 2015-2026.

Tinnitus, diminished sound-level tolerance, and elevated auditory activity in humans with clinically normal hearing sensitivity. Gu, J.W., Halpin, C.F., Nam, E.C., Levine, R.A., Melcher, J.R. J. Neurophysiol. 2010; 104: 3361-3370.

The auditory midbrain of people with tinnitus: abnormal sound-evoked activity revisited. Melcher, J.R., Levine, R.A., Bergevin, C., Norris, B. Hear. Res. 2009; 257: 63-74.

Generators of the brainstem auditory evoked potential in cat III: identified cell populations. Melcher, J.R., Kiang, N.Y.S. Hear. Res. 1996; 93: 52 - 71.

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1983: B.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
1986: M.S. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT
1993: Ph.D. Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, MIT

Postgraduate Training

1993-1996: Postdoctoral research on the generation of brainstem auditory evoked potentials, Speech and Hearing Bioscience and Technology Program, HST, MIT.