News

Following are a selection of interesting news items from our field. This section will be updated on a continuous basis so check back often in between issues, to see what is new.

Babies’ Babbles Reflect Their Own Involvement in Language Development

Source: ScienceDaily

Babies' repetitive babbles, such as 'dada' or 'baba,' primarily are motivated by infants' ability to hear themselves talk, say researchers. Infants with profound hearing loss who received cochlear implants to improve their hearing soon babbled as often as their hearing peers, allowing them to catch up developmentally.

Scientists Identify Proteins Crucial to Loss of Hearing

Source: ScienceDaily

Right now, there is no way to reverse hearing loss, largely because auditory hair cells, which sense sound and relay that information to the brain, do not regenerate. A new study, however, has found a key clue to how these hair cells develop. The study identified a new role for a particular group of proteins in the development and survival of the hair cells.

Scientists Develop Genetic Blueprint of Inner Ear Cell Development

Source: ScienceDaily

Using a sensitive new technology called single-cell RNA-seq on cells from mice, scientists have created the first high-resolution gene expression map of the newborn mouse inner ear. The findings provide new insight into how epithelial cells in the inner ear develop and differentiate into specialized cells that serve critical functions for hearing and maintaining balance.

Scientists Identify Molecular Motor Protein Necessary for Hearing

Source: The Hearing Review

A research team led by scientists at the NIDCD has discovered that a protein essential for building key hearing structures in the inner ear also plays a critical role in maintaining them throughout life. This discovery could open up new approaches to preserving hearing and preventing common forms of hearing loss.

Study Finds Cancer Drug Improves Sound Processing, Sharpens Memory

Source: The Hearing Review

Can you imagine a drug that would sharpen memory, make it easier to learn a language, and help those with dementia and Alzheimer's disease by rewiring the brain and keeping neurons alive? A new Rutgers study indicates that a cancer drug may have the potential to achieve these outcomes.

New Computer Program Predicts Cochlear Implant Success in Hearing-Impaired Children

Source: Medical Xpress

A new computer program that analyzes functional brain MRIs of hearing impaired children can predict whether they will develop effective language skills within two years of cochlear implant surgery, according to a study in the journal Brain and Behavior.

Ancient Human Ear-Orienting System Could Yield Clues to Hearing Deficits in Infants

Source: ScienceDaily

Vestigial organs, such as the wisdom teeth in humans, are those that have become functionless through the course of evolution. Now, a psychologist studying vestigial muscles behind the ears in humans has determined that ancient neural circuits responsible for moving the ears, still may be responsive to sounds that attract our attention. Neuroscientists studying auditory function could use these ancient muscles to study positive emotions and infant hearing deficits.

Hidden Brain Pathways Crucial to Communication

Source: ScienceDaily

Being able to understand speech is essential to our evolution as humans. Hearing lets us perceive the same word even when spoken at different speeds or pitches, and also gives us extra sensitivity to unexpected sounds. Now, new studies clarify how these two crucial features of audition are managed by the brain.

National Health Survey Finds 1 in 6 Adults Has Trouble Hearing

Source: The Hearing Review

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) reports that one in six US adults aged 18 and older reports trouble hearing without a hearing aid, according to new results from a nationally representative survey looking at hearing and hearing loss.

Ear-Toxic Drugs – How Infections Make Them Worse

Source: Action on Hearing Loss

New research has shown that the damaging effects of some drugs on hair cells (as shown in the photo, right), such as aminoglycoside antibiotics, are actually worse in the presence of the infection they're meant to combat. Lead researcher, Peter Steyger, tells us more about his findings and describes his own personal experience of hearing loss.