Neurotrophins - how do they influence neural firing and ion channels?

Project Details

Neurotrophins such as brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurotrophins 3 (NT3) are nerve growth factors that have been shown to successfully promote the survival of auditory neurons in deafness. This study examines the functional consequences of neurotrophins as a adjunct treatment for cochlear implants by determining how BDNF and NT3 control the electrical output of primary auditory neurons.  In this project we employ cochlea microdissection, cell culture and patch-clamp recording techniques.


Professor Stephen O'Leary, Chair of Otolaryngology

Ms Kate Brody, Research Assistant


Senior Wagstaff Fellowship, Royal Victorian Eye & Ear Hospital

Research Outcomes

Cai HQ, Gillespie LN, Wright T, Brown WGA, Minter R, Nayagam B, O’Leary SJ, and Needham K. (2017) Time-dependent activity of primary auditory neurons in the presence of neurotrophins and antibiotics. Hearing Research 350: 122-132

Wright T, Gillespie LN, O’Leary SJ, and Needham K. (2016) Firing frequency and entrainment maintained in primary auditory neurons in the presence of combined BDNF and NT3. Scientific Reports 6, 28584

Needham K, Nayagam BA, Minter RL and O’Leary SJ. (2012) Combined application of brain-derived neurotrophic factor and neurotrophin-3 and its impact on spiral ganglion neuron firing properties and hyperpolarization-activated currents. Hearing Research 291: 1-14

Research Group

Hearing Neurosciences

Faculty Research Themes


School Research Themes

Neuroscience & Psychiatry

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre


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