Below is an email I received from a friend of mine that is doing research on hearing devices, esp. for NF2 patients (not sure if some of you remember, but I also attended a seminar at Mass Eye and Ear with him this past summer on cochlea implants). Anyway, below is an email he sent to me (reprinted here with his permission).Ã‚Â This is an interesting subject matter.Ã‚Â I asked him who it was from HEI that was there but he said it was a researcher, name not remembered.Ã‚Â I'll askÃ‚Â him again on it.Ã‚Â Ã‚Â I have asked Wil about coming to the ANA Symposium next year and he will keep me updated if he can make it.Ã‚Â He is a staunch supporter of AN and NF2 patients and is working diligently to help bring back hearing to those of us/you that may need it by inventing new hearing devices.
Hey Phyl, I've just been to an excellent seminar at BU's Hearing
Research Center, about ABIs for NF2 patients.Ã‚Â (The seminar was great,
but I'm afraid the news is not very good for you personally.)
It looks like there's something special about NF2 patients.Ã‚Â
A researcher at the House Ear Institute compared performance data for
two populations of ABI patients: NF2 patients, and bilateral trauma
patients (usually from motorcycle accidents with bad skull fractures).
Speech recognition performance for the trauma population was very
good, comparable to CI populations, which are nearly as good as normal
listeners -- but speech recognition performance for the NF2 population
was very bad, comparable to a single-channel CI (which is really only
helpful as an aid to lipreading).
ABIs go into the cochlear nucleus (CN), which is the first ganglion
downstream from the auditory nerve, and there's a specific section of
the CN called the Small Cell Cap (SCC) which appears to have special
properties.Ã‚Â He postulates that the SCC serves as a detector for fine
structure in the audio signal, similar to the fovea in the eye, which
is specific for pattern recognition tasks (like speech).Ã‚Â Further, he
postulates that the SCC is damaged in NF2 patients, either by the
growing tumor itself or by the surgery used to remove it.
This is all very new.Ã‚Â Nothing is certain yet, but if it turns out to
be the tumor removal surgery that causes the problem, there's hope
that surgeons may be able to come up with other methods to remove the
tumor with less damage.Ã‚Â If it's the tumor itself, there doesn't seem
to be much hope that we can do anything about it, though.Ã‚Â
He also talked some about two new types of implants in the Inferior
Colliculus Complex, which is in the midbrain and higher in the signal
paths.Ã‚Â Inferior Colliculus Implant (ICI) is a surface electrode
array, while Auditory Midbrain Implant (AMI) is a penetrative array
(like tiny needles).Ã‚Â Results appear to be similar to the ABI.http://www.hei.org/
Ã‚Â House Ear Institute
hope all is well,