Yes, there is some very exciting research in hearing. Hopefully, one day it will provide a cure for hearing loss. Here are few recent discoveries:
Nerve loss is the most common type of permanent hearing loss. Nerve loss results from damage to the hearing nerves called haircells. These fine nerve fibers, once damaged, cannot be restored. Recently, scientists found that chickens are able to spontaneously rejuvenate damaged haircells. Researchers are now working with stem cells as a possible means to restore haircells in humans. This could have a positive impact in the lives of millions of Americans, helping them to hear better.
Not only does it appear that one day we may be able to repair damaged haircells but we may also be able to protect haircells from noise exposure with a pill. While still in the research stage, the pill appears to be most effective in protecting the ear when taken prior to the exposure and may even be protective when taken hours later. This can be great news for people in the military, working in factories and many others who are exposed to loud sounds.
Did you know mice are born without hearing? Around two weeks of age, their hearing develops. By looking at how hearing develops in mice, scientists discovered a very precise rhythm of electrical impulses coming from the ear. These impulses develop and organize the auditory (hearing) pathways. This information may prove helpful in understanding causes of auditory processing disorders and hopefully lead to more effective treatment.