Hearing aids are amazing devices that can provide hearing to people who suffer from hearing loss. They offer incredible features like rechargeability, Bluetooth connectivity, smartphone compatibility, telecoils, directional microphones, automatic programming, machine learning and more. But despite their abilities, they still have some limitations. Researchers studying the cochlea believe their findings could lead to hearing aid improvements.
The Cocktail Party Problem
The cocktail party problem refers to the trouble people with hearing loss have when it comes to distinguishing between multiple voices in social settings like Zilker Brewing Company & Tap Room. Even the most advanced hearing aids have trouble amplifying the correct speaker and tend to amplify all voices evenly. Some with directional microphones are better at amplifying just the speaker in front of the wearer, but that’s not always the person whose voice you want to focus on.
Researchers at the University of Rochester are hopeful their findings will help hearing aids better address the cocktail party problem.
About the Study
The study is led by Jong-Hoon Nam. The purpose of the research is to determine the precise moment when sounds are converted into electrical impulses by the stereocilia within the cochlea. This information could provide the basic science needed to design hearing aids capable of compensating for the unique ways hearing loss presents within each unique ear.
According to Nam, “No two hearing aids should be the same.”
Below we review some key findings of the study:
- The outer hair cells in the cochlea can both amplify and reduce vibrations in order to enhance cochlear tuning.
- A computer model has been created that can interpret and analyze how the response to one tone can be reduced by the presence of another tone within a healthy cochlea.
- Imbalances of Ca2+, a calcium ion that controls a variety of cellular processes, can contribute to the creation of outer hair cells, particularly those responsible for high-frequency sounds.
- Extended silence could harm rather than help hearing health.
For more information about today’s hearing aids or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Austin Auditory Specialists today.