NeuroSPECT technique: Experts show that each one of us "hears differently"

A study of sound stimulation influence on brain function means Chilean researchers are pioneers in Latin America. Similar research work has only been carried out in developed countries such as Japan, South Korea, Canada, and England.

Scientific research in general is a hot subject in Chile. It has been for many years. The country's economy has grown in a sustainable fashion since 1990 but based on the sale of raw materials; in other words, national production is limited and the country really only sells product. Chile invests just 0.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in science and technology, and researchers are few and far between, amounting to no more than 800 professionals. Developed countries, on the other hand, invest an average of 2.5% of GDP and keep an average of 5,000 specialised scientific researchers in work.

In this limited landscape, the state concentrates on solving energy problems, since the formula allows for no growth in the socio-economic system. For less prioritised areas, then, there are scarce possibilities. In Chile there are no official figures on scientific or technological research related to audiology. There are isolated efforts and studies in very controlled soft sciences, which is even more reason why the current efforts of a multidisciplinary group of experts backed by the Las Condes Clinic and immersed in studying sound stimulated brain function is attracting so much attention.

NeuroSPECT technique

Three internationally-renowned experts have been using technology called NeuroSPECT to study how the brain functions in relation to the auditory apparatus and the environment that generates these sounds. They are:

  • Ismael Mena, expert in nuclear medicine. Pioneer worldwide in central auditory processing with NeuroSPECT, the precursor of this technique at UCLA; in fact, he is the Emeritus Professor of Radiology at the University of California. He decided to return to Chile to apply this technology, and is now on the staff of professionals at the Las Condes Clinic. He was recently named Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Auvergne in France.
  • Marcos Goycoolea, otorhinolaryngologist, who has more than 30 years of experience, has appeared in 160 national and international publications and published several books, among them an Atlas of Otological Surgery which was a best-seller in the USA in 1989. He is Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota, USA, and Visiting Lecturer at the University of Chile.
  • Sonia Neubauer, specialist in nuclear medicine at the Las Condes Clinic, and also an international authority on brain function studies.