Micha Wiggins and her mother Doty not only travelled a long way-from Dallas, Texas-to visit Ruth Litovsky’s lab on March 10 and 11, they also had made a long personal journey to arrive at this point. Micha was diagnosed as profoundly deaf at 10 months, recei ved her first cochlear implant at age four, underwent hundreds of hours of therapy over the years, and just a few months ago at age eight received a second cochlear implant in her other ear. Micha’s participation in Litovsky’s research project was a milestone: she is the first child in the United States with dual cochlear implants to undergo testing. Since she had received so much auditory training, her mother thought the second cochlear implant might not make that much difference. But according to Lito vsky, the testing showed that Micha was already doing more than twice as well as she had done previously. On hand for a portion of the testing was WKOW TV Channel 27, which broadcast a story on the evening of March 11.
Ruth Litovsky, Ph.D., Department of Communicative Disorders, is an investigator in the Sensory and Cognitive Proce sses Unit of the Waisman Center. Her research focuses on the ability of people to function in their environment using sound. She is particularly interested in binaural hearing, or how people hear with both ears, and investigates such issues as how the brain handles echoes and how we manage to understand speech in noisy environments. She is developing clinical tests that can be used to assess children’s hearing in a way that mirrors real, complex environments. In the next few months, Litovsky will be testi ng additional children with dual cochlear implants to evaluate whether they demonstrate a significant advantage over one implant.