A new method for mapping the auditory pathway

Photo credit: Kampus Production

by Daniel Fink, MD, Chair, The Quiet Coalition

The Science Daily reported on a new method for mapping the auditory pathway developed by researchers in China. I lack the scientific background to understand “a neuroimaging technique called probabilistic tractography,” but this new method may help surgeons implant devices in children born with congenital sensorineural hearing loss. There is currently uncertainty about the best method of treatment because the children may have inner ear malformations or cochlear nerve deficiencies. The surgical decision is whether the patient needs a cochlear implant or an auditory brainstem implant to help improve hearing. The device won’t help as much as it could if it’s implanted in the wrong location, which is why this new method for mapping the auditory pathway may be so important.

My interests aren’t in treatment of auditory conditions but in prevention of auditory conditions, which include noise-induced hearing loss, tinnitus and hyperacusis. Fortunately, most people are born with normal hearing. We just need to protect our ears.

Preventing hearing loss is easy, inexpensive and doesn’t need any new methods. Avoid loud noise, turn down the volume, leave the noisy environment or use hearing protection devices like earplugs or earmuffs. Because if something sounds loud, it’s too loud and your auditory health is at risk.

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