2010 marks the 30th year of the E-A-R™ Hearing Conservation Clinics. These educational seminars, presented by 3M, provide practical information on how to enhance hearing conservation programs that help protect workers who are exposed to on-the-job noise. The Clinics are FREE and are accredited for professionals by the American Board of Industrial Hygiene Certification Program, American Association of Occupational Health Nurses and American Academy of Audiology. The Clinics are offered to industrial, government, and military personnel who want to learn more about effective hearing conservation program management and how to properly protect their employees from hazardous noise. Attendees typically include industrial hygienists, health and safety personnel, occupational health nurses, industrial audiologists, consultants, engineers and medical staff. The Clinics focus on practical and applied solutions rather than highly technical matters. Well known author and industry expert, Elliott Berger, is the leader of the Clinics.
Scientists at Duke University Medical Center have identified neurons in the songbird brain that convey the auditory feedback needed to learn a song. Their research lays the foundation for improving human speech, for example, in people whose auditory nerves are damaged and who must learn to speak without the benefit of hearing their own voices. "This work is the first study to identify an auditory feedback pathway in the brain that is harnessed for learned vocal control, " said Richard Mooney, Ph.D., Duke professor of neurobiology and senior author of the study. The researchers also devised an elegant way to carefully alter the activity of these neurons to prove that they interact with the motor networks that control singing. The study, supported by an NIH grant, was published online in Neuron on Jan. 13. Vocal learning isn't a simple process. "One challenge the brain faces when trying to learn a new behavior is that it only receives feedback about performance tens or even hundreds of milliseconds after it has generated the motor commands controlling that performance, " Mooney said.
FDA Advisory Panel Votes 15 To 0 In Favor Of Approving Envoy Medical's Esteem R Fully Implantable Hearing Restoration System
Envoy Medical, a Minnesota corporation, has developed the first Fully Implantable Hearing Restoration System known as the Esteem® . On December 18th, an Advisory Panel of independent ENT experts unanimously recommended that the FDA approve the Esteem® . Patrick Spearman, Envoy Medical's Chief Executive Officer, was quoted as saying "This is great news for all sensorineural hearing loss sufferers. Envoy has been able to accomplish with the Esteem® what hearing aids set out to do but were unable to. Our Esteem® allows recipients the opportunity to hear naturally and restore their lives back to normal." In the clinical trial, patients averaged an 11 decibel improvement in Speech Reception Threshold (SRT) scores beyond their hearing aids. At a quiet conversation level, average patient speech understanding improved by more than 45% over their hearing aids. The Advisory Panel's vote is a recommendation only, and the FDA will still have to formally approve the Esteem®
Music therapy can assist in the speech acquisition process in toddlers who have undergone cochlear implantation, as revealed in a new study by Dr. Dikla Kerem of the University of Haifa. The study was carried out in Israel as a doctoral thesis for Aalborg University in Denmark (supervised by Prof. Tony Wigram) and presented at a "Brain, Therapy and Crafts" conference at the University of Haifa. Some infants who are born with impaired hearing and who cannot benefit from hearing aids are likely to gain 90% normal hearing ability by undergoing a cochlear implantation procedure. Following the operation, however, the child - who never heard before - undergoes a long rehabilitation process before he or she can begin to speak. In the present study, Dr. Kerem examined the particular effects that music therapy has on the potential development of toddlers (aged 2-3 years) who have undergone cochlear implantation, specifically in terms of improving spontaneous communication. "Music comprises various elements that are also components of language and therefore as a non-verbal form of communication is suitable for communication with these children, when they are still unable to use language.
Loss of spiral ganglion neurons or hair cells in the inner ear is the leading cause of congenital and acquired hearing impairment. Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health found that Sox2, a protein that regulates stem cell formation, is involved in spiral ganglion neuron development. The study was published in the January 13 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience. "These findings may provide the first step toward regenerating spiral ganglion neurons, the nerve cells that send sound representations to the brain, " said Alain Dabdoub, PhD, co-investigator and assistant professor of surgery with the division of otolaryngology at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. "This has significant implications for advances in cochlear implant technology and biological treatments for hearing loss." In the cochlea, auditory neurons transmit sound vibrations conveyed by hair cells. These vibrations are then converted to nerve impulses that communicate with the brain.
A new study into hearing has uncovered the secret of our extraordinary ability to perceive a range of sounds - from a pin dropping to the roar of a jet engine - and could lead to a better understanding of deafness and hearing loss. With further research, it is hoped that we may soon be closer to understanding mechanisms behind deafness, enabling improved methods aimed at repairing hearing loss due to damage or genetic defects. The findings also shed light on other sensory systems, such as smell and vision. Funded by the Wellcome Trust, Deafness Research UK and the Royal Society, Dr Walter Marcotti, of Sheffield University's Department of Biomedical Science, has discovered how a particular calcium sensor present in highly specialised sensory cells allows us to hear with such remarkable sensitivity across a wide range of sound intensities. Working collaboratively with researchers in four other institutions, Dr Walter Marcotti and his research assistant Dr Stuart Johnson have found that a calcium sensor present in auditory sensory cell synapses allows them to encode graded sound stimuli.
A gene associated with a rare form of progressive deafness in males has been identified by an international team of researchers funded by the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. The gene, PRPS1, appears to be crucial in inner ear development and maintenance. The findings are published in the Dec. 17 early online issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics. "This discovery offers exciting therapeutic implications, " said James F. Battey, Jr., M.D., Ph.D., director of the NIDCD. "Not only does it give scientists a way to develop a targeted treatment for hearing loss in boys with this disorder, it may also open doors to the treatment of other types of deafness, including some forms of acquired hearing loss." The gene is associated with DFN2, a progressive form of deafness that primarily affects males. Boys with DFN2 begin to lose their hearing in both ears roughly between the ages of 5 and 15, and over the course of several decades will experience hearing loss that can range from severe to profound.
Pioneering new research funded by RNID has revealed hope for the early treatment of tinnitus. The study, led by researchers at the University of Western Australia, has revealed that for a certain period, spontaneous nerve activity in the brain previously shown to be associated with some types of tinnitus is dependent on signals from the ear. So temporarily reducing the signals sent from the ear to the brain opens up the possibility of treating tinnitus early after onset. Tinnitus can be a distressing and debilitating condition that affects most people at some point. Currently, around one in 100 people experience serious problems with long-term tinnitus. Professor Don Robertson, who led the study at the University of Western Australia, said: "This finding indicates there may be an early phase of tinnitus development which could be arrested by temporarily dampening down the firing from the cochlea. And although a lot more research needs to be done at this stage, it is a very exciting prospect.
Siemens Launches 'Decibels For Life' - New Campaign Aims For Hearing Awareness And Instrument Innovation
'Decibels for Life', the new campaign from Siemens Hearing Instruments, has been launched to maintain awareness of hearing loss. It will also champion hearing innovations that help overcome impairments leading to an improved quality of life. The ongoing campaign will address how hearing loss or wearing an inappropriate hearing instrument can mean missing out on a range of daily sounds. It will draw on everyday examples such as clinking glasses, whispered gossip or buzzing bees under the slogan, 'Why miss a decibel in your life?' "The 'Decibels for Life' campaign will address the issue of hearing impairment and the importance of having the right hearing instrument. Fifteen per cent of the population is diagnosed with hearing loss, but many more are not aware of how much they fail to hear, " states Darren Ransley, UK Product and Marketing Manager at Siemens Hearing Instruments. "With an ageing population and growing awareness that hearing needs to be tested regularly, it is important to inform people that there are innovations that can make a real difference to quality of life.
Light touch - the sense that lets musicians find the right notes on a keyboard, a seamstress revel in the feel of cool silk, the artisan feel a curve in material and the blind read Braille - truly depends on the activity of Merkel cells usually found in crescent-shaped clusters in the skin, said researchers from Baylor College of Medicine and colleagues in a report that appears in the current issue of the journal Science. "Human, primates and any animal that relies on hands for dexterity use their Merkel cells to feel texture and shape, " said Dr. Ellen Lumpkin, assistant professor of neuroscience, molecular physiology and biophysics and molecular and human genetics at BCM and a senior author of the report. "Merkel cells are not like pain fibers. They exist in special areas of the skin to feel light touch. We have a lot of them on our fingertips and also on our lips." However, while many scientists thought Merkel cells were key elements of light touch, they could never directly prove the link.