Is There A Central Brain Area For Hearing Melodies And Speech Cues? An Open Question Needing Further Study, Review Says
The perceptual feature of sound known as pitch is fundamental to human hearing, allowing us to enjoy the melodies and harmonies of music and recognize the inflection of speech. Previous studies have suggested that a particular hotspot in the brain might be responsible for perceiving pitch. However, auditory neuroscientists are still hotly debating whether this "pitch center" actually exists. In a new review article, Daniel Bendor, Ph.D., of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, discusses a recent study claiming that this pitch center may not exist after all, or alternatively, may not be located where previous research has suggested. The article is entitled "Does a Pitch Center Exist in Auditory Cortex?"and appears in the Articles in PresS section of the Journal of Neurophysiology, published by the American Physiological Society.
Gene-Therapy Trial Will Attempt To Restore Hearing In Deaf Mice Following Discovery Of Critical Molecules For Hearing And Balance
Researchers have found long-sought genes in the sensory hair cells of the inner ear that, when mutated, prevent sound waves from being converted to electric signals - a fundamental first step in hearing. The team, co-led by Jeffrey Holt, PhD, in the department of otolaryngology at Children's Hospital Boston, and Andrew Griffith, MD, PhD, of the NIH's National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), then restored these electrical signals in the sensory cells of deaf mice by introducing normal genes. The study paves the way for a test of gene therapy to reverse a type of deafness, to be conducted by Holt and Swiss collaborators. Findings appear in the online issue of the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Sound waves produce the sensation of hearing by jiggling protruding hair-like structures on sensory hair cells in the inner ear.
Nearly a fifth of all Americans 12 years or older have hearing loss so severe that it may make communication difficult, according to a new study led by Johns Hopkins researchers and published in the Nov. 14 Archives of Internal Medicine. The findings, thought to be the first nationally representative estimate of hearing loss, suggest that many more people than previously thought are affected by this condition. Study leader Frank Lin, M.D., Ph.D., an assistant professor with dual appointments in both the Department of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and in the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, explains that several previous estimates of hearing loss focused on various cities or populations, such as children or elderly patients.
Each year on November 5th, individuals from across the UK gather to celebrate Bonfire Night's fun, festivities, and fireworks. However in order to enjoy the night in complete safety, the national charity Deafness Research UK is urging individuals to protect their hearing. With the main focus on general firework safety and the role of emergency services, individuals often ignore warnings regarding hearing health. Modern fireworks can generate incredible noise and individuals and parents should protect their ears - especially very young children unaware of the risks. Fireworks usually have a noise category ranging from 1 to 5, one being the lowest and five the highest. For outdoor use, individuals should select fireworks from category 2 and 3 in order to protect hearing. Simple rules to protect hearing: Set off fireworks in a open area and read the box for the recommended standing distance.
Sloan Churman, 29, who was born profoundly deaf, wept when she heard her own voice and laughter for the first time after having a hearing device implanted nine weeks ago. Churman, who used to use hearing aids to capture some rudimentary sounds, said "Hearing aids only help you so much". Churman's husband videoed her as the nurses switched the implant on and she heard herself and the world around her at full volume for the first time. Churman said: "I was born deaf and 8 weeks ago I received a hearing implant." When the nurses switched the implant on, they asked her whether she could notice anything. Overwhelmed with tears she nodded "Yes", covered her face, and cried and laughed at the same time. Churman was struck by her own laughter, "My laughter sounds loud! " she commented. The Esteem Hearing Implant The sound processor of the Esteem is planted behind the patient's ear.