ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

2pPP2. Hallowell Davis: What he meant to otology.

Harold F. Schuknecht

Dept. of Otology and Laryngology, Harvard Medical School

Department of Otolaryngology, Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary, 243 Charles St., Boston, MA 02114

It was a thrill to watch Hal manipulate stimulus parameters and recording instruments to encourage the guinea pig cochlea to reveal more of its secrets. He did not swerve from his conviction that alterations in the fields of electrical activity would reflect states of disorder in cochlear morphology and function that would one day have useful clinical applications. Hal was content, however, to allow others to struggle with the diagnostic and surgical challenges of otologic practice. I have no doubt that he could have been an outstanding clinical otologist but he felt rightly that for him a more useful contribution could be made to clinical medicine through research. By elucidating the bioelectric potentials of the auditory system he provided the basis for the development of the auditory evoked response (AER) test. The method differentiates cochlear from retrocochlear lesions with a high degree of accuracy. The use of AER to detect deafness in neonates has led to a more effective early management of profoundly deaf infants. Other devices that have benefited otology and can be attributed in part to discoveries and implementation by Hal Davis are electrocochleography, audiometry, and design and standardization of hearing aids.