Tinnitus app now available

Tinnitus Relief app makes living with tinnitus easier

Chalfont Hearing, News:

This news article is taken from the GnResound website: 

An international study from 2012 found that 15% of the global population experience permanent tinnitus but many more are affected by temporary tinnitus. A Danish study, also from 2012, with 14,000 participants found that 27% of those in the study experienced either temporary or permanent tinnitus. In other words, more than one quarter of the Danish population are affected tinnitus.

But despite a lot of research on the topic, there is still a lot to learn about tinnitus. According to Chief Physician Ture Andersen at Odense University Hospital in Denmark, tinnitus is often a symptom of damage to the inner ear. Tinnitus is not a disease, but can be a symptom of a disease or an impaired auditory system. It is defined as the perception of noise or ringing in the ears when no external sound is actually present. The sounds are most commonly described as ringing, whistling, wheezing, buzzing or humming, but can be described in many other ways. A large Swedish study showed that excessive noise at work and in other environments results in fatigue, headaches and ultimately impaired hearing or tinnitus. Another study, from France, shows that only one in 123 people with tinnitus do not have a hearing impairment.

 

Eva’s history

Eva Jensen, who lives in Greve, Denmark, fits in well to these statistics. With a moderate to severe hearing loss, Eva can’t hear much without her hearing aids and she experiences tinnitus.

“What does your tinnitus sound like?” I asked Eva. She explained that it is a constant buzzing sound, which lies somewhere in the middle of the pitch spectrum. “I think it developed at my work where there was a lot of noise,” says Eva. In 2006 she stopped working as an Educational Assistant in a nursery because of a back injury and since then she has suffered from constant back pain.

“It was only when I stopped working that I started thinking about my tinnitus. My husband was still working so I was at home alone where it was completely quiet and I became more aware of the ringing in my ears.” She experiences it all day, especially when she takes off her hearing aids in the evening. “Since my injury I have the TV on constantly – it helps me think of something other than my back pain,” says Eva.

Eva’s experience with Relief app

“It’s really great to be able to use the app when my tinnitus is driving me crazy. If you are strongly affected by tinnitus, I would definitely recommend this app. There are so many possibilities with creating your own soundscapes, you can always find a sound that’s comfortable. There is no doubt that I’m going to keep it on my phone, so I can get help when my tinnitus it really bothering me,” says Eva with a smile.

ReSound Relief

The idea of helping people focus on something other than the pain, or in this case tinnitus, is the basic concept of a new app made by the hearing aid manufacturer GN Hearing. The free app is called ReSound Relief and offers a combination of audio therapy and relaxation exercises. My editorial team and I tested the app, which offers some new and unique features compared to other apps we have tried. One very smart feature of the app is that it allows you to create your own soundscapes.

Relief allows you to combine a variety of familiar sounds such as birdsong or bubbling water with music and other therapeutic nature sounds. The ability to combine sounds, offers an almost endless amount of possibilities. This sound mixing feature allows you to mix five different sounds and you can individually adjust the volume of each sound.

After downloading the app, you can listen to music on your smartphone as usual, and if you use wireless hearing aids or headphones, you can stream directly through them. The ReSound Relief app also contains a feature called MyRelief that keeps a record of how you use the app and which sounds you have used the most. It creates a personalized plan and allows you to track your progress, much like an exercise app. “When we were developing the concept of this app, we analyzed the market for other tinnitus apps and found that mostof them just use sounds as a distraction. Very few actually guide the user through the tinnitus management process. Tinnitus management for many is more than just playing a sound.

The idea of MyRelief is that you can use it as part of the treatment provided by a Hearing Care Professional. Because MyRelief keeps a record of your use, it provides useful information that a Hearing Care professional can use as part of tinnitus counseling” says Michael Piskosz, Senior Audiologist at GN Hearing.

The app gives you some great tools to help you with your tinnitus.

Learn more about ReSound Relief

Avoid a vicious spiral

Worldwide, around 700 million people experience tinnitus. Around two thirds of them have mild to moderate tinnitus. People in the last third with more severe tinnitus can even experience feelings of desperation and hopelessness. International studies show that only about 3-5% of people seek help, so many people just try to live with tinnitus without any support. “In the United States, 70-80% of the population have a smartphone, and because we know that many people are desperately searching for help, we made this app. In most cases, the app will be beneficial. In addition to the distracting sounds there is also therapeutic support,” says Michael Piskosz. “ReSound Relief includes relaxation exercises and techniques for dealing with the tension and stress that tinnitus can cause. If you are extremely affected by tinnitus, the app alone will not be enough but it is a very useful tool and a great first step for people seeking help with tinnitus.”

This strategy is supported by a study by Professor Ture Andersen from Odense University Hospital.  “Unfortunately, the more emotionally you react to your tinnitus, the more the tinnitus signals will pass through the hearing center in your brain. If you respond by getting irritated or with stress or anxiety, it can actually make you more aware of the tinnitus sounds. You may end up getting into a “vicious cycle” where your tinnitus ends up controlling you. It’s important to learn how to avoid this. One way is by training  yourself not to respond to the tinnitus sounds. This way, the brain will filter out the noise signals to a large extent before reaching the hearing center. Then you’ll only hear a weak sound in the background, a light soundscape that makes it less distracting.” The study also shows that music can help. The volume of the music should not be particularly high – it’s not about covering up the sound of tinnitus with a louder sound – but about focusing your attention on the music and away the tinnitus.

“In some cases, when you use audio therapy to get relief from your tinnitus, the focus on it can increase,” explains Michael Piskosz. “Many people believe that this is due to the introduction of the technology to help with the tinnitus. Often times, people monitor their tinnitus more, to see if the technology is helping. It’s similar to when someone gets a new pair of shoes. At first, they are very aware of the shoes, and getting used to the fit. But, with time, they adjust and acclimate. Typically, users will find that the focus on tinnitus will be reduced over-time by using an app like ReSound Relief.”

More information about ReSound apps, please click here.  

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New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

New Study Examines Inequality in Treatment for Hearing Loss

Chalfont hearing news:

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Hearing loss seems like one of the great equalizers of old age, striking people of all kinds as their ears gradually lose the ability to pick out sounds or hear certain pitches.

But a new national study reveals major gaps in whether Americans over age 55 get help for their hearing loss—gaps that vary greatly by age, race, education, and income, according to an article published on the Michigan Medicine website.

In all, just over a third of older adults who say they have hearing loss are using a hearing aid to correct it, the study finds. But those who are non-Hispanic white, college educated, or have incomes in the top 25% were about twice as likely as those of other races, education levels, or income ranges to have a hearing aid.

The cost of hearing aids is most to blame, say the researchers from the University of Michigan who published the study in The Gerontologist. They presented it this week at the annual research meeting of the AcademyHealth professional society for health care researchers.

Hearing aids can cost thousands of dollars out of a patient’s pocket because most health insurance programs, including Medicare, don’t cover them.

In fact, the study finds that the only factor that leveled the playing field for hearing aid use was having insurance through the Department of Veterans Affairs, which covers hearing aids in many cases. Hearing-impaired veterans ages 55 to 64 were more than twice as likely as their nonveteran peers to use a hearing aid, even after the researchers corrected for other differences. The gap between veterans and nonveterans was also significant for those over 65.

But the detailed interviews conducted for the study also show that personal concerns about hearing aid use, and lack of engagement with health providers, play a role.

“Hearing aids are not easy for many to obtain due to their costs,” says Michael McKee, MD, MPH, the U-M family medicine physician and assistant professor who led the analysis.

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

Michael McKee, MD, MPH

“However, there are a number of additional issues that place at-risk groups at an even larger disadvantage to achieving good hearing health. Many of these issues are beyond the financial aspects, including racial/ethnicity and sociocultural elements, for instance stigma and vanity.”

National survey and local interviews

McKee, who uses a cochlear implant to overcome his own hearing loss, worked on the study with Helen Levy, PhD, a health economist and professor at the U-M Institute for Social Research, and other colleagues. The authors are members of the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation.

They used survey data from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study, which is based on interviews conducted by the Institute for Social Research with funding from the National Institutes of Health.

The analysis included data from more than 35,500 people nationwide over age 55 who said they had hearing loss. In addition, McKee and colleagues conducted in-depth interviews with 21 other older adults with hearing loss in the communities surrounding the university.

The authors conclude that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Servicesshould consider covering hearing aids for Medicare participants and those in Medicaid plans for lower-income adults of any age. Some state Medicaid plans do cover hearing aids, but it is not required.

“Many people may not realize that Medicare does not cover hearing aids,” says Levy. “But it doesn’t, so cost can be a significant obstacle preventing older adults with hearing loss from getting the help that they need.”

More findings from the study:

  • The percentage of older adults with hearing loss who used a hearing aid rose with age, from about 15% of those in their late 50’s to more than 57% of those in their late 80s.
  • Forty percent of non-Hispanic white adults with hearing loss used a hearing aid, compared with 18.4% of non-Hispanic black and 21.1% of Hispanic adults with hearing loss.
  • Nearly 46% of hearing-impaired older adults who had gone to college reported that they used a hearing aid, compared with just under 29% of those who hadn’t graduated from high school.
  • Nearly half of those with incomes in the top 25% wore a hearing aid, compared with about one-quarter of those in the bottom 25%.
  • There were no significant differences in hearing aid use based on the size of the community where the person lived, nor their level of health literacy as measured on a standard test.
  • Interviews showed that cost, lack of insurance coverage (or knowledge about insurance coverage), vanity, and stigma were common reasons for not using hearing aids. Participants also cited a lack of attention to hearing loss by their primary care provider and worries about finding an audiologist they could trust.
  • Many interview participants who used a hearing aid mentioned efforts that hearing-related professionals made to connect them to discounts and insurance programs.

More about hearing loss

Estimates of hearing loss incidence place it at 29% of people in their 50s, 45% of those in their 60s, 68% of those in their 70s, and 89% of those in their 80s.

Previous studies have shown that untreated hearing loss reduces older adults’ ability to carry out everyday tasks, reduces their quality of life, and is linked to social isolation, lower income, reduced cognitive function, and poorer physical and psychological health.

A recent study led by McKee’s colleague Elham Mahmoudi, PhD, found that having a hearing aid was associated with a lower chance of being hospitalized or visiting an emergency room in the past year. That study focused on people over 65 who had severe hearing loss, and it used data from a federal database.

McKee leads the Health Info Lab, which is researching health information use and literacy among deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals.

This article is copyrighted by the University of Michigan and used with permission.

Original Paper: McKee MM, Choi H, Wilson S, DeJonckheere MJ, Zazove P, Levy H. Determinants of hearing aid use among older Americans with hearing loss. The Gerontologist. 2018. Available at: https://academic.oup.com/gerontologist/advance-article-abstract/doi/10.1093/geront/gny051/5000029?redirectedFrom=fulltext

Source: Michigan Medicine/University of Michigan, The Gerontologist

Image: University of Michigan

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Earwax removal specialists in Bucks

The Chalfont hearing centre based in Chalfont is rated as one of the best places in Bucks to get your ears removed of wax.

If you have the older analogue hearing aid and are looking to open up your hearing to the very latest digital hearing aid.  Leon Cox the lead audiologist based at the Henley and Chalfont hearing Centre & Clinics is the man to talk to.

The Chalfont hearing centre is a leading centre that has the latest technology to test your hearing, clean your ears (wax removal) and dispense the latest digital hearing aids. Along with hearing aid batteries and accessories.

 

Chalfont Hearing Centre News:

GN Hearing Launches Rechargeable Battery Option for ReSound Linx 3D

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GN Hearing—the medical device division of the GN Group—has introduced a rechargeable battery option for the ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, the company announced. The rechargeable battery solution, available in North America and other major markets from September 1, gives ReSound users more options to choose from. The rechargeable option is also available for Beltone Trust in North America, and from September 1, this will be extended to other major markets.

The rechargeable battery option is made available based on an understanding of user expectations as well as a commitment to empower users to choose the solution best suited for their needs and preferences. The announcement follows GN Hearing’s release of the innovative 5thgeneration 2.4 GHz wireless technology ReSound LiNX 3D hearing aids, which offer unmatched sound quality, an enhanced fitting experience, and comprehensive remote fine-turning, giving users a new hearing care experience, GN Hearing said.

According to the company, ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable has all of the benefits of ReSound LiNX 3D, now combined with the all-day power of a rechargeable battery. With overnight charging, users will experience the advantage of all-day power, without the need to change batteries.

ReSound Linx 3D rechargeable accessory.

ReSound LiNX 3D rechargeable accessory.

“GN Hearing is pleased to provide yet another option for hearing aid users, built on our commitment to providing unmatched sound quality and user experience,” said Anders Hedegaard, president & CEO, GN Hearing. “This new rechargeable battery solution allows hearing care professionals to offer an additional option to their clients, and gives hearing aids users even more choices to tailor their hearing experience to their unique preferences,” he added.

Source: GN Hearing 

Image: GN Hearing 

 

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Best independent hearing company in Bucks

Best independent hearing company in Bucks

The Chalfont hearing centre is regarded as one of the best independent hearing centres in the whole of Buckinghamshire. Leon Cox, lead audiologist based at both the Henley & Chalfont hearing centres is fully qualified and regulated to conduct hearing tests and earwax removal using Microsuction. He also dispenses the very latest digital hearing aids.

 

Chalfont hearing news:

Though public transportation is thought to be better for the environment in that it reduces greenhouse gas emissions, saves energy, and improves air quality, according to the Federal Transit Administration, there may be a negative effect on your personal health.

good hearing helps job performance

According to a recent Canadian study, commuters traveling during peak hours were exposed to maximum noise levels. A summary of the study’s results, published on the Hear-it AISBL—a nonprofit organization that provides information on hearing loss—website, show the results of the study, which was published in the Journal of Otolaryngology—Head & Neck Surgery. In this article, we’ll share the highlights, edited and adapted from the Hear-it website.

COMMUTING STYLES

Researchers looked at two different commuting situations among Toronto residents: people waiting for a streetcar/bus as compared to people walking/biking to a subway. Bikers were exposed to louder noise than those walking or driving a vehicle. Noise levels were higher for those waiting on a subway platform as compared to those in the subway car. And, finally, research showed that those waiting at bus stops were exposed to the loudest noise of all.

KPIs on your business dashboard

PEAK NOISE

Though commuters often only experienced short and intense bursts of impulse noise exceeding the 114 dBA limit recommended by the EPA, researchers concluded this can be just as harmful as prolonged noise exposure. Up to 20% of the peak mean noise measurementsexceeded 114 dBA, and up to 85% of measurements at bus stops were higher than 120 dBA, according to the study. Researchers were concerned that prolonged exposure could lead to noise-induced hearing loss.

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Hearing loss centre in Bucks

Hearing loss centre in Bucks.

The Chalfont hearing centre in Buckinghamshire for all info on hearing aids and ear issues.

 

Salt- or Sugar-Based Solution May Diminish Noise-Induced Hearing Loss

Chalfont hearing centre news update:

soldier aims gun

It’s well known that exposure to extremely loud noises—whether it’s an explosion, a firecracker, or even a concert — can lead to permanent hearing loss. But knowing how to treat noise-induced hearing loss, which affects about 15% of Americans, has largely remained a mystery. That may eventually change, thanks to new research from the Keck School of Medicine of USC, which sheds light on how noise-induced hearing loss happens and shows how a simple injection of a salt- or sugar-based solution into the middle ear may preserve hearing, the school announced on its website.  The results of the study were published in PNAS.

Deafening sound

To develop a treatment for noise-induced hearing loss, the researchers first had to understand its mechanisms. They built a tool using novel miniature optics to image inside the cochlea, the hearing portion of the inner ear, and exposed mice to a loud noise similar to that of a roadside bomb.

They discovered that two things happen after exposure to a loud noise: sensory hair cells, which are the cells that detect sound and convert it to neural signals, die, and the inner ear fills with excess fluid, leading to the death of neurons.

“That buildup of fluid pressure in the inner ear is something you might notice if you go to a loud concert,” said the study’s corresponding author John Oghalai, MD, chair and professor of the USC Tina and Rick Caruso Department of Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery and holder of the Leon J. Tiber and David S. Alpert Chair in Medicine. “When you leave the concert, your ears might feel full and you might have ringing in your ears. We were able to see that this buildup of fluid correlates with neuron loss.”

John Oghalai, MD

John Oghalai, MD

Both neurons and sensory hair cells play critical roles in hearing.

“The death of sensory hair cells leads to hearing loss. But even if some sensory hair cells remain and still work, if they’re not connected to a neuron, then the brain won’t hear the sound,” Oghalai says.

The researchers found that sensory hair cell death occurred immediately after exposure to loud noise and was irreversible. Neuron damage, however, had a delayed onset, opening a window of opportunity for treatment.

A simple solution

The buildup of fluid in the inner ear occurred over a period of a few hours after loud noise exposure and contained high concentrations of potassium. To reverse the effects of the potassium and reduce the fluid buildup, salt- and sugar-based solutions were injected into the middle ear, just through the eardrum, three hours after noise exposure. The researchers found that treatment with these solutions prevented 45–64% of neuron loss, suggesting that the treatment may offer a way to preserve hearing function.

The treatment could have several potential applications, Oghalai explained.

“I can envision soldiers carrying a small bottle of this solution with them and using it to prevent hearing damage after exposure to blast pressure from a roadside bomb,” he said. “It might also have potential as a treatment for other diseases of the inner ear that are associated with fluid buildup, such as Meniere’s disease.”

Oghalai and his team plan to conduct further research on the exact sequence of steps between fluid buildup in the inner ear and neuron death, followed by clinical trials of their potential treatment for noise-induced hearing loss.

Original Paper: Kim J, Xia A, Grillet N, Applegate BE, Oghalai JS. Osmotic stabilization prevents cochlear synaptopathy after blast trauma. PNAS. 2018. Available at: http://www.pnas.org/content/early/2018/05/01/1720121115.short?rss=1

Source: Keck School of Medicine of USC, PNAS

Image: Keck School of Medicine of USC

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New hearing aids in Buckinghamshire

Chalfont hearing centre has the best and latest hearing aids in the county!

 

Chalfont hearing centre really do keep up with the latests and greatest in digital hearing tech. From the most up to date digital hearing aids to the state of the art microsuction for clearing earwax (ear wax). Chalfont hearing can also do you free hearing tests and recommend a path to getting you towards better hearing in crowds, noisy environments such as a cafe or restaurant.  Talk with Leon Cox the lead audiologist at the Chalfont hearing centre and book your appointment now.

 

Oticon Brings Oticon Opn with Telecoil, Power Options, and Tinnitus SoundSupport to VA

Chalfont hearing centre, news.

Oticon OPN_miniRITE_miniRITE-T_BTE13 PP_

Reportedly the “official supplier” of hearing devices to the Veterans Affairs Administration, Department of Defense, and other federal agencies, Oticon has already brought the Oticon Opn™ open sound experience to many US veterans and active duty military service personnel, the company announced. Now, the Oticon Government Services team will supply two new Opn solutions, Opn miniRITE-T and BTE Plus Power, and two new features, Tinnitus SoundSupport™ and Speech Rescue LX, to support the care provided by VA and government audiologists.

“Many hearing care professionals in the Veterans Affairs Administration have experienced firsthand how Opn’s benefits of less effort, better recall, and better speech understanding in noise provide real-world, practical, and significant impact on quality of life,” said David Horowitz, Oticon Government Services manager. “Now our expanded offerings bring even more benefits to more patients, especially veterans suffering with tinnitus, the most prevalent service-connected disability.”

Tinnitus SoundSupport is designed to enable VA audiologists to address the needs of veterans who experience both hearing loss and tinnitus with a range of customizable relief sounds, including broadband and ocean-like sounds. For veterans who prefer a telecoil, the small, discreet Opn miniRITE-T features a telecoil and tactile toggle switch for volume and program control.  The Opn BTE 13 Plus Power gives veterans with hearing loss up to 105 dB HL access to Opn’s open sound experience. This hearing solution features a telecoil, toggle switch, and a two-color LED indicator.

All Opn styles and performance levels now also feature Speech Rescue LX, a feature that is designed to improve clarity and speech understanding for people with high-frequency hearing loss, according to Oticon. Speech Guard LX is designed to increase access to speech by rescuing speech cues that might otherwise be inaudible.

For more information about the expanded Oticon Opn family, visit www.Oticon.com/OPN.

Source: Oticon

Image: Oticon

 

 

 

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Tinnitus management in Bucks

Oticon ConnectClip Wins 2018 Red Dot Award for Product Design

Chalfont hearing centre, Tinnitus control, hearing aids, wax removal in Bucks.

Red Dot logo 2018
Oticon ConnectClip has earned a 2018 Red Dot Award for product design, the Denmark-based hearing aid manufacturer announced. A panel of international jurors recognized ConnectClip for what was said to be “outstanding design aesthetics” that incorporated a variety of technical, performance, and functionality innovations. The intermediary device is the newest addition to the Oticon connectivity devices designed to improve Oticon Opn™users’ listening and communication experiences.  ConnectClip will be among the award-winning designs exhibited at Red Dot Design Museums around the world.

Oticon Logo

Commenting on the award win, Gary Rosenblum, president, Oticon, Inc said, “Oticon is honored to receive another prestigious Red Dot Award, this year for our new ConnectClip. This internationally recognized symbol of excellence is a testament not only to ConnectClip’s convenient, lifestyle-enhancing features, but also to the work that goes into the design and continued evolution of our Oticon Opn hearing aid, a 2017 Red Dot Award winner.”

The multi-functional ConnectClip is designed to turn Oticon Opn hearing aids into a high-quality wireless headset for clear, hands-free calls from mobile phones, including iPhone® and Android™ smartphones. Sound from the mobile phones is streamed directly to the hearing aids and ConnectClip’s directional microphones pick up the wearer’s voice. ConnectClip serves double duty as a remote/partner microphone, helping to provide improved intelligibility of the speaker wearing it, either at a distance (up to 65 feet), in very noisy environments or in a combination of the two. Opn wearers can also use ConnectClip as a remote control for their hearing aids.

Wearable Technology Award Win

Oticon also celebrates a win at the UK’s Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards. Oticon Opn received the  Innovation Award for wearable originality and advancement. The win reflects votes by a combined method of professional jury and public website vote.

Organizers at the Wearable Technology and Digital Health Show Awards commented on the win: ”The judges felt that the Oticon solution presented a revolutionary approach to hearing loss, and that its technology presented a real opportunity for users to interact with the growing number of smart devices in the home. A worthy winner.”

Learn more about the expanded Oticon Opn family, ConnectClip and entire range of wireless connectivity accessories at www.Oticon.com/Connectivity.

 * Apple, the Apple logo, iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc. Android, Google Play, and the Google Play logo are trademarks of Google Inc.

Source: Oticon

Images: Oticon, Red Dot

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Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows

Neurofeedback May Reduce Severity of Tinnitus, Study Shows

Chalfont Hearing Centre

Researchers using functional MRI (fMRI) have found that neurofeedback training has the potential to reduce the severity of tinnitus or even eliminate it, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America (RSNA), the international society of radiologists, medical physicists, and other medical professionals announced on its website.

sherwood_fig_1

The standard approach to fMRI neurofeedback.

 Tinnitus is the perception of noise, often ringing, in the ear. The condition is very common, affecting approximately one in five people. As sufferers start to focus on it more, they become more frustrated and anxious, which in turn makes the noise seem worse. The primary auditory cortex, the part of the brain where auditory input is processed, has been implicated in tinnitus-related distress.

For the study, researchers looked at a novel potential way to treat tinnitus by having people use neurofeedback training to turn their focus away from the sounds in their ears. Neurofeedback is a way of training the brain by allowing an individual to view some type of external indicator of brain activity and attempt to exert control over it.

“The idea is that in people with tinnitus there is an over-attention drawn to the auditory cortex, making it more active than in a healthy person,” said Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD, research engineer and adjunct faculty in the Department of Biomedical, Industrial, and Human Factors Engineering at Wright State University in Fairborn, Ohio. “Our hope is that tinnitus sufferers could use neurofeedback to divert attention away from their tinnitus and possibly make it go away.”

Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD

Matthew S. Sherwood, PhD

To determine the potential efficacy of this approach, the researchers had 18 healthy volunteers with normal hearing undergo five fMRI-neurofeedback training sessions. Study participants were given earplugs through which white noise could be introduced for periods of time. The earplugs also served to block out the scanner noise.

sherwood_fig_2

Overview of the experimental design. Each participant completed 5 sessions.

To obtain fMRI results, the researchers used single-shot echo planar imaging, an MRI technique that is sensitive to blood oxygen levels, providing an indirect measure of brain activity.

“We started with alternating periods of sound and no sound in order to create a map of the brain and find areas that produced the highest activity during the sound phase,”  Sherwood said. “Then we selected the voxels that were heavily activated when sound was being played.”

The volunteers then participated in the fMRI-neurofeedback training phase while inside the MRI scanner. They received white noise through their earplugs and were able to view the activity in their primary auditory cortex as a bar on a screen. Each fMRI-neurofeedback training run contained eight blocks separated into a 30-second “relax” period followed by a 30-second “lower” period. Participants were instructed to watch the bar during the relax period and actively attempt to lower it by decreasing primary auditory cortex activity during the lower phase.

Neurofeedback training paradigm.

Neurofeedback training paradigm.

The researchers gave the participants techniques to help them do this, such as trying to divert attention from sound to other sensations like touch and sight.

“Many focused on breathing because it gave them a feeling of control,” Sherwood said. “By diverting their attention away from sound, the participants’ auditory cortex activity went down, and the signal we were measuring also went down.”

A control group of nine individuals were provided sham neurofeedback—they performed the same tasks as the other group, but the feedback came not from them but from a random participant. By performing the exact same procedures with both groups using either real or sham neurofeedback, the researchers were able to distinguish the effect of real neurofeedback on control of the primary auditory cortex.

Control over the primary auditory cortex (A1 control) separated by group and session. The experimental group was found to have significantly higher control, averaged across training, than the control group.

Control over the primary auditory cortex (A1 control) separated by group and session. The experimental group was found to have significantly higher control, averaged across training, than the control group.

Whole brain effects of neurofeedback training.

Whole brain effects of neurofeedback training.

Effect of emotion on attention. Emotional distractors resulted in a significantly larger change in response latency in the experimental group when compared to the control group. However, the impact of emotion on attention was not found to change significantly between the groups across training.

Effect of emotion on attention. Emotional distractors resulted in a significantly larger change in response latency in the experimental group when compared to the control group. However, the impact of emotion on attention was not found to change significantly between the groups across training.

Activation of the primary auditory cortex in response to binaural stimulation. Activation significantly decreased from session 1 to session 5.

Activation of the primary auditory cortex in response to binaural stimulation. Activation significantly decreased from session 1 to session 5.

Improvements in control over the primary auditory cortex were found to be significantly related to decreases in the effect of emotion on attention.

Improvements in control over the primary auditory cortex were found to be significantly related to decreases in the effect of emotion on attention.

The study reportedly represents the first time fMRI-neurofeedback training has been applied to demonstrate that there is a significant relationship between control of the primary auditory cortex and attentional processes. This is important to therapeutic development, Sherwood said, as the neural mechanisms of tinnitus are unknown but likely related to attention.

The results represent a promising avenue of research that could lead to improvements in other areas of health like pain management, according to Sherwood.

“Ultimately, we’d like take what we learned from MRI and develop a neurofeedback program that doesn’t require MRI to use, such as an app or home-based therapy that could apply to tinnitus and other conditions,” he said.

Co-authors are Emily E. Diller, MS; Subhashini Ganapathy, PhD; Jeremy Nelson, PhD; and Jason G. Parker, PhD. This material is based on research sponsored by the US Air Force under agreement number FA8650-16-2-6702. The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official views or policy of the Department of Defense and its Components. The US Government is authorized to reproduce and distribute reprints for Governmental purposes notwithstanding any copyright notation thereon. The voluntary, fully informed consent of the subjects used in this research was obtained as required by 32 CFR 219 and DODI 3216.02_AFI 40-402.

Source: RSNA

Images: RSNA

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Sonic Enchant Line Adds SoundClip-A to Stream Sounds in Stereo from Numerous Devices

Sonic Enchant Line Adds SoundClip-A to Stream Sounds in Stereo from Numerous Devices 

Sonic SoundClip-A.

Sonic SoundClip-A.

Sonic, Somerset, NJ, has expanded the wireless connectivity options of its Enchant hearing aids with the introduction of SoundClip-A. The easy-to-use, lightweight SoundClip-A allows users to stream stereo sound hands-free to both hearing aids from all Bluetooth® 2.1 smartphones and devices. Sonic Enchant already offers a range of premium features including natural sound, the ease and convenience of rechargeable batteries, and direct wireless streaming from an iPhone®.

Now, the small, ergonomically designed clip-on device delivers added benefit as a wireless remote/partner microphone for easier listening when the speaker is at a distance or in noisy environments where listening is difficult. SoundClip-A also enables remote volume control, program changes and call pick-up with just the press of a button.

Joseph Lugera

Joseph Lugera

“SoundClip-A’s wireless transmission of stereo sound from all Bluetooth 2.1 smartphones and devices adds the ‘wow’ of even more wireless convenience to the many ways Enchant makes everyday sounds better,” said Sonic President & COO Joseph A. Lugara in a press statement. “With Enchant, wireless connectivity is simple and stress-free thanks to Enchant’s Dual-Radio System that delivers fast ear-to-ear connection and employs 2.4 GHz technology.”

Simply Streaming. SoundClip-A allows patients to use Enchant hearing aids as a headset for mobile calls. Users stream stereo quality sound to both ears through their Enchant hearing aids from any Bluetooth 2.1 compatible device—including mobile phones, tablets, MP3 players, and more. The built-in microphones pick up the wearer’s voice and sound from the call which is streamed wirelessly to both ears for convenient, hands-free conversations.

When SoundClip-A is used as a wireless remote/partner microphone, the speaker simply clips on the lightweight device or keeps it nearby. The speaker’s voice can be heard more easily through the user’s Enchant hearing aids at a distance of up to 65 feet, according to the company. SoundClip-A also helps users enjoy video calls, webinars, and other audio sources for easy wireless listening in both ears.

For more information on SoundClip-A and the entire Enchant family, including Enchant100, Enchant80 and Enchant60 and popular styles including the miniRITE with ZPower, miniRITE T (with telecoil) and BTE 105, visit www.sonici.com.

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Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, University College London Researchers Find

Visual Cues May Help Amplify Sound, University College London Researchers Find

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Looking at someone’s lips is good for listening in noisy environments because it helps our brains amplify the sounds we’re hearing in time with what we’re seeing, finds a new University College London (UCL)-led study, the school announced on its website.

The researchers say their findings, published in Neuron, could be relevant to people with hearing aids or cochlear implants, as they tend to struggle hearing conversations in noisy places like a pub or restaurant.

The researchers found that visual information is integrated with auditory information at an earlier, more basic level than previously believed, independent of any conscious or attention-driven processes. When information from the eyes and ears is temporally coherent, the auditory cortex —the part of the brain responsible for interpreting what we hear—boosts the relevant sounds that tie in with what we’re looking at.

“While the auditory cortex is focused on processing sounds, roughly a quarter of its neurons respond to light—we helped discover that a decade ago, and we’ve been trying to figure out why that’s the case ever since,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Jennifer Bizley, UCL Ear Institute.

In a 2015 study, she and her team found that people can pick apart two different sounds more easily if the one they’re trying to focus on happens in time with a visual cue. For this latest study, the researchers presented the same auditory and visual stimuli to ferrets while recording their neural activity. When one of the auditory streams changed in amplitude in conjunction with changes in luminance of the visual stimulus, more of the neurons in the auditory cortex reacted to that sound.

“Looking at someone when they’re speaking doesn’t just help us hear because of our ability to recognize lip movements—we’ve shown it’s beneficial at a lower level than that, as the timing of the movements aligned with the timing of the sounds tells our auditory neurons which sounds to represent more strongly. If you’re trying to pick someone’s voice out of background noise, that could be really helpful,” said Bizley.

The researchers say their findings could help develop training strategies for people with hearing loss, as they have had early success in helping people tap into their brain’s ability to link up sound and sight. The findings could also help hearing aid and cochlear implant manufacturers develop smarter ways to amplify sound by linking it to the person’s gaze direction.

The paper adds to evidence that people who are having trouble hearing should get their eyes tested as well.

The study was led by Bizley and PhD student Huriye Atilgan, UCL Ear Institute, alongside researchers from UCL, the University of Rochester, and the University of Washington, and was funded by Wellcome, the Royal Society; the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC); Action on Hearing Loss; the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Hearing Health Foundation.

Original Paper: Atilgan H, Town SM, Wood KC, et al. Integration of visual information in auditory cortex promotes auditory scene analysis through multisensory binding. Neuron. 2018;97(3)[February]:640–655.e4. doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2017.12.03

Source: University College London, Neuron

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