New research in single sided hearing loss/Unilateral hearing loss

October 6, 2016 by Raji Parangad

Single sided deafness can be caused by a number of things, from viral infections or thrombi to brain tumours  and is currently incurable and difficult to treat. Symptoms include difficulty localising sound (direction of sound source) have significant difficulty hearing in noisy situations, especially when the noise is comingssd4from their hearing side.  The noise becomes part of the speech and very difficult to separate. Technology has evolved as we now have sophisticated Contralateral Routing of Signals (CROS) and Bilateral Contralateral Routing of Signals (BICROS) .

Researchers have been studying brain plasticity in response to Single sided deafness.  Brain plasticity is the ability of the brain to modify its own structure and function in response to changes, such as disease,  within the body or external factors.  It is at the base of normal brain function:  it helps us to learn and change our behaviour  as children, and as adults can help us to overcome brain injuries, use prosthetic limbs and of course, as well as many other things – including hearing devices.

Researchers found that the spread of cortical activation was symmetrical across the hemispheres of the brain in normal-hearing subjects, while in those with the single sided deafness the spread of neuron activation was extended in one hemisphere and reduced in the other.  This discovery demonstrates plasticity in both hemispheres of the brain in SSD sufferers, and is an important step toward the possible development of biomarkers that will assist in the guidance of treatment choices. Ultimately, it may even be possible to use this plasticity to develop therapies to cure the condition: by using brain stimulation as a process to restore a normal interhemispheric relationship.  Additionally, it may be that scientists may be able to restore normal auditory processing, returning SSD sufferers to a life less affected by their hearing and communication handicap.

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