Friday, February 27, 2015

Brain Implant Gives Children New Chance to Hear

News Brief by Sam Kessel          

  A team led by the University of Southern California's Keck School of Medicine (USC) has recently begun a clinical trial to assist children born without an auditory nerve. Despite the availability of hearing aids, people born without this nerve are never able to hear because their brain is unable to process sound. An Auditory Brainstem Implant (ABI) is a device that directly stimulates neurons at the position where the spinal cord meets the brain. The device has been successfully used in the past to treat children 12 years or older suffering from neurofibromatosis type II, a disease that produces a harmless brain tumor on the hearing nerve. Typically, this treatment has not been successful in adults because after a certain age, brains are unable to learn how to process sound. This clinical trial is important because it is the first of its kind to effectively test how well the ABI improves outcomes for young children and determine how safe it is. Additionally, this trial will help scientists to study how the brain physically changes when it begins processing sound and learns speech.

University of Southern California - Health Sciences. "Auditory brainstem implant: Hearing experts break sound barrier for children born without hearing nerve." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 February 2015. .
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