Hearing impairment (HI) is an epidemic affecting over 1.5 billion individuals of all ages. Globally, unaddressed HI causes losses of ~US$1 trillion each year. Addressing HI requires early detection which current hearing screening tools are inadept at doing efficiently. Specifically, current hearing screening tools can either only index the sensory cells in the inner ear or require measurement of brainstem electroencephalography (EEG) to index the sensory cells and the auditory nerve which require additional resources.
The auditory efferent system (ES) originates in the auditory cortex and terminates in the cochlea (inner ear). The activity of the ES has several hypothesized implications for human hearing: facilitating speech understanding in noisy environments, protecting the sensitive inner ear against loud noise, and serving as biological markers of damage in the auditory system.
Click. Click. Click. What’s that sound? It’s Waisman Center investigator Sriram Boothalingam exploring ways to develop more comprehensive and reliable hearing tests. To test for several types of hearing loss, audiologists use a small earphone …
How did you get into your field of research? After I learned that the inner ear can produce sounds on its own and that the brain controls what we hear, I was hooked!