Analysts from the University of Michigan have found a way to represent the section of the ear that processes speech through a computerized model. This invention will help enhance hearing tests and hearing aid devices that are able to restore some hearing capabilities to those who are deaf. The cochlea, a spiral, tube-like cavity, collects pressure information from the eardrum and transforms it into nerve impulses, or signals transmitted along a nerve fiber, which are sent to the brain. There has not been complete insight as to how the cochlea functions from beginning to end, until this virtual model was created.
The apex, which is the furthest part from the eardrum, becomes gradually smaller at one end making it more difficult to examine. It also has different cell structures than the base. There have been new improvements to optical coherence tomography (OTC) and uses of light waves to develop 3-D images to give researchers a closer view of the cochlea’s apex. The OTC data allowed these researchers to determine the inner workings of the cochlea, interaction fluid-structure, and cell makeup.
The researchers also claim that their virtual model could likely improve how newborn babies get tested for hearing impairments and better insight of an infant’s hearing abilities. Making enhancements to the model for speech and music transduction may help the way cochlear implants function, and also a hearing aid’s capacity to accurately replicate sounds.
If you are in need of hearing aids or a hearing test, contact us at Pure Sound Hearing Aids for a free hearing test and consultation from one of our hearing instrument specialists.