Neuroscience and medical research is helping to show the importance of auditory processing on brain plasticity at all stages of life. Brain imaging is enabling research scientists to see the effect of auditory deprivation.
This is a really exciting area of research. With hearing conditions there are so many effective solutions, from surgical and simple medical interventions for conductive problems through to state of the art hearing technology, right through to cochlea implants. Our hope is that with more weight being given to the importance of the auditory pathway in relation to longer term brain and cognitive health, more research projects will be funded. Areas of research that we hope will help preserve hearing, help us find effective ways of improving outcomes with techniques to avoid auditory deprivation and perhaps one day, cure hearing loss with exciting developments in hair cell regeneration.
With this new thinking in mind, Aston Hearing is excited to be working with neuroscientist and psychologist Dr. Lynda Shaw.
Dr. Shaw has a personal interest in hearing and the potential effect of auditory deprivation on the brain, especially at key times in development such as pre-lingually in childhood and with the maturing brain, looking at long term cognitive health. We will be working with Dr. Shaw over the next year studying international research and looking at ways to use the information to better inform our practice.
One area we are already looking at is working with teachers of children with special educational needs, such as dyslexia. We are interested to see if there is any link with pre-lingual hearing challenges causing extra difficulties with the understanding of phonics, reading, spelling and behaviour.
The other area we have a special focus on is the effect of untreated hearing loss on the ageing brain. There is strong evidence now that the brain loses its ability to understand speech well when deprived of auditory information for a length of time. The longer we can keep these important pathways open and active, the evidence shows a positive effect on slowing down the decline of certain types of dementia and significantly, keeping people socially active for longer shows positive outcomes all round, particularly on brain health.