A new study on deaf rats demonstrates that boosting neuroplasticity, the benefit from faster hearing natural ability to adapt to new situations increases the effectiveness of a cochlear implant in restoring hearing loss. The study, according to researchers, may help clarify why some implant recipients respond to treatment so much better than others.
Cochlear implants, in contrast to hearing aids, which amplify, balance, and sharpen sound, send electrical signals that represent sounds directly to the brain. Tragically, it requires investment to figure out the importance of the signs. Some people with cochlear implants start to understand speech hours after they get it, while others take months or years. It is not clear what mechanisms control how quickly the brain adjusts to an implant.
a major site of neuroplasticity deep in mammals’ brain stems, helped them learn to use their devices more quickly.
It demonstrated that rodents with the additional boost could effectively complete tasks requiring accurate hearing within three days of receiving their implants. In contrast, it took them up to 16 days to do so without the stimulation.
The research team discovered in a previous study that electrically stimulating the locus coeruleus in rodents alters how the brain’s benefit from faster hearing system represents a sound and increases neuroplasticity. Dr. Glennon says that the new study is the first to show that stimulating this part of the brain can speed up hearing in people who have cochlear implants.
The researchers trained normal-hearing rats to press a button when they heard a certain sound and to ignore the button if they heard another sound. The rats were unable to complete the task once they became deaf.
The study showed, among other things, that as the rats learned to use their implants, the activity of the locus coeruleus changed dramatically.
When the animals received food after hearing the tone and pressing the appropriate button, the brain region was initially the most active. As they figured out how to connect squeezing the button with getting the prize, cerebrum action rather crested when they just heard the tones. Notably, the rats consistently achieved success faster the faster this change occurred.
Robert C. Froemke, Ph.D., the Skirball Foundation Professor of Genetics in the Department of Neuroscience and Physiology at NYU Langone, is the study’s co-senior author and a neuroscientist. He says, “Our results suggest that improving neuroplasticity in the locus coeruleus may speed up and bolster the effectiveness of cochlear implants.” World News Spot
According to Dr. Froemke, the team intends to investigate non-invasive methods for stimulating the brain region in humans in the future. In addition, Dr. Froemke is a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery at NYU Langone.
Cochlear Ltd., an NYU vendor that also sells NYU Langone equipment and technical support, provided additional funding support.
Youssef Z. Wadghiri, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Radiology at NYU Langone, is one of the study’s other investigators, along with Drs. Glennon, Froemke, and Svirsky. Principal investigator at the University of Cologne in Germany, Silvana Valtcheva, Ph.D.; and Angela Y. Zhu, MD, clinical ophthalmology assistant professor at the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute in Miami.