This latest news is being reported by scientists at the University of Michigan’s Kresge Hearing Research Institute. They recently announced that they have successfully implanted an ultra-thin electrode array in the auditory nerves of animals. The implants have been successful in transmitting a wide spectrum of sounds to the animals’ brains. The next logical step is to do more animal testing, as well as with people who are deaf.
One researcher said that the new implants work better than cochlear implants, in nearly “every measure.”
According to the WebWire article linked above, if the procedure proves successful in subsequent tests, “profoundly and severely deaf people would have another option that could allow them to hear low-pitched sounds common in speech, converse in a noisy room, identify high and low voices, and appreciate music — areas where cochlea implants, though a boon, have significant limitations.”
The article also states that, “The possible auditory nerve implants likely would be suitable for the same people who are candidates today for cochlear implants: the profoundly deaf, who can’t hear at all, and the severely deaf, whose hearing ability is greatly reduced. Also, the animal studies suggest that implantation of the devices has little impact on normal hearing, offering the possibility of restoring sensitivity to high frequencies while preserving remaining low-frequency hearing.”