Hearing Restoration Through Synaptic Plasticity Directed by Vagus Nerve Stimulation
Technical Report,01 Sep 2018,31 Aug 2019
University of Texas at Dallas Richardson United States
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Individuals with hearing loss lack any consistently effective interventions to restore normal hearing, especially in noisy environments. The goal of this study is to produce a novel therapy to improve speech intelligibility for people with noise-induced hearing loss. This project will provide the critical proof-of-concept demonstration that vagus nerve stimulation VNS paired with auditory therapy can direct highly effective synaptic plasticity to restore speech processing in a rat model of hearing loss. Our results confirm that noise exposure produces significant, long lasting behavioral impairments and degraded neural responses to sound. Initial preliminary results indicate that VNS-sound pairing therapy can restore speech discrimination ability and strengthen neural responses to sounds. The development of this therapy to improve hearing function would yield clear benefits for patients with hearing loss, most notably enhanced communication and increased quality of life. Successful development and translation of this flexible platform technology has the potential to fundamentally impact the treatment of hearing impairments.
- Anatomy and Physiology