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Hearing technologies could play an important role in delaying dementia

EVENT

© The International Society of Audiology

New research into understanding how the brain adapts and improves its hearing abilities through the use of hearing technologies could play an important role in the future management of dementia. The use of devices such as hearing aids and cochlear implants to delay and/or reverse cognitive decline in conditions such as dementia was one of the topics discussed at the XXXII World Congress of Audiology in Brisbane this week.

Professor Stephen Crain (picture), from the Macquarie University describes central auditory plasticity as the adaptability of the brain’s cerebral cortex to process sound more effectively in response to new stimuli:“We now know the brain has a remarkable ability to regrow and adapt itself to process new kinds of information and relearn tasks, especially in early childhood, but across the lifespan.” The peak of brain’s central auditory plasticity occurs in children between the ages of two and four. It’s before this critical time that infants with hearing loss benefit most from being fitted with a hearing device so that the regions of the brain that processes sound information and language can develop most optimally.

“Although the brain has its greatest plasticity in very young children, it continues to have remarkable adaptive abilities at all ages." Preliminary research supports the notion that adults with hearing aids develop new neural pathways in the brain to more fully utilise the information created by these devices. To some extent this conclusion is supported by anecdotal evidence that many adults who are initially unhappy with their hearing devices suddenly report dramatic improvement a month or so later.“We don’t know yet exactly what is happening in the brains of these adults, but their observations suggest that perceptual processing changes are taking place in the brain as it adjusts to the information provided by hearing devices,” Professor Crain explained.

“It’s early days but as the degree of hearing loss is highly correlated with the risk of dementia it seems highly likely that intervention with a hearing device to restore hearing in adulthood could assist in delaying the onset of dementia.”

Source: International Society of Audiology

J.E.

BREXIT: what UK audiology has to say
BREXIT: what UK audiology has to say

 

trade

©vicnt - iStock

The big players in the UK audiology market and profession have finally broken a long, uncomfortable silence on the confusing and—for some—alarming subject of Britain's exit from the European Union.

From iPhone ear scan to printed 3D device in under 60 minutes...Down Under
From iPhone ear scan to printed 3D device in under 60 minutes...Down Under

 

3D

©CraigRJD - iStock

An Australian university-based start-up is ready to market a one-hour 3D printing service for personalised hearing device shapes, and it uses iPhone scanning to provide the mould data.

Children who say hand dryers ‘hurt my ears’ proved right by "real world" study
Children who say hand dryers ‘hurt my ears’ proved right by

 

noise

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A study in the journal of the Canadian Paediatric Society suggests that hand dryers in public washrooms may be damaging to children's hearing. The published research was carried out by a 13-year-old.

Pixar petitioned to market doll of Toy Story 4 cochlear implant kid
Pixar petitioned to market doll of Toy Story 4 cochlear implant kid

 

cochlear implants

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Pixar's inclusion drive in Toy Story 4 is being tested by a Spanish hearing campaigner's petition for the animation company to market a doll of a cochlear implant-wearing child character who appears briefly in the film.

Premature babies neurally lifted by snake-charmer music
Premature babies neurally lifted by snake-charmer music

 

music

©Garsya - iStock

Swiss-based research suggests that a music-enriched environment for very premature babies can help build them brain architecture similar to that of full-term newborns.

Is treatable neuroinflammation the trigger for tinnitus?
Is treatable neuroinflammation the trigger for tinnitus?

 

tinnitus

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Inflammation could be the mechanism driving tinnitus, suggests newly published US research. If so, it is more than likely treatable.

MRI-safe cochlear implant approved by FDA
MRI-safe cochlear implant approved by FDA

 

cochlear implants

©Battuhan - iStock

A cochlear implant designed especially for use in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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