The Earswitch in MND

Assessing the potential for a new communication device in earphones, by investigating the prevalence of voluntary contraction of a small muscle in the ear.

This study (being undertaken by the University of Bath) is collecting preliminary information by questionnaire about whether people living with MND could benefit from a new communication/assistive device located in earphones.

Some existing switches to control electronic communication tools, may be difficult for some people with Motor Neurone Disease to use. A company called Earswitch Ltd, have demonstrated that a small muscle in the ear, called the tensor tympani muscle, can be voluntarily moved and effectively used to control a virtual on-screen keyboard to communicate. This technology may be advantageous to a range of people to enable or improve communication.

However, it is not currently known what proportion of people can voluntarily move this ear muscle and therefore potentially benefit from this technology. As such, this research project conducted by the University of Bath will aim to establish what proportion of the general population as well as those with motor neurone disease can move or control this muscle. This research is being conducted with the aim of developing better technological tools to help people with communication problems.

What does taking part involve?

Taking part will involve completing an online survey which will take around 10 minutes to complete.

The information that you and other participants provide will help us to understand what proportion of a population with MND can voluntarily contract this muscle in your ear and may help to develop technology that would assist individuals with severe neurological disorders to communicate more easily in the future.

Study location


If you would like to take part in the online survey, please click the button below depending of which type of participant you are:

Who can take part?

People with MND

General population (different survey link)

Aged 18 years and over

How can I take part?

To take part in the survey, please click one of the survey link buttons on this page.


If you have any questions or require any further information about this study, you can contact the project supervisor Dr. Dario Cazzola ( or the Chair of the University's ethics committee for health research, Professor James Betts (


University of Bath

Expiry date: 31 March 2021

For further information and support contact our MND Connect helpline

mndconnect 0808 802 6262