Research - Archive

Study: Earbuds can damage hearing permanently

March 17, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Medical officials suggest turning down volume, take breaks

KITV ABC – Hawaii
Mar 13, 2015
By Paula Akana

HONOLULU —It’s a common sight around town: People going about their daily routine wearing earbuds and listening to their favorite books or music.

But many people, especially young ones, may be listening to music too loud and putting themselves at risk for losing their hearing.

Watch Video-nocaptions with transcript 

“I think you’ve got to be careful. Keep it down so you can hear what’s around you to be safe,” said earbud user Scott Lawton.

Lawton loves the convenience of earbuds, especially when he’s exercising. David Thomas uses them, too, but understands the importance of keeping the volume low.

“Definitely, definitely. There’s always the chance of injury if you listen too loud or too long,” said Thomas.

The problem is that young people don’t seem to follow those rules.



RIT/NTID Offers Online Speech Recognition Test

March 13, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



RIT/NTID – Website
MARCH 3, 2015

Rochester Institute of Technology’s National Technical Institute for the Deaf has launched a website that provides individuals with one tool to determine whether they may benefit from hearing aids, allowing them to seek help sooner if that’s the case.

The test is free and can be found at:

“The test provides useful information and is recommended for anyone who is suspected of having a hearing loss,” said Joseph Bochner, who, with Wayne Garrison, worked on the website as a research project for several years.

Bochner, chairman of NTID’s cultural and creative studies department, and Garrison, a research faculty member in NTID’s Center on Access Technology, have spent years making sure the online test provides more accurate results than previously existing online tests offered elsewhere.

“This is a powerful diagnostic measure that has significant advantages over other measures of speech recognition,” Bochner said.

Read More , register and take test  . . .

Deaf or Death? In Drug Trial, Parents Weigh Life vs. Hearing Loss

March 10, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



An experimental treatment could let children with a rare genetic disease live longer, but it may make them deaf

BETHESDA, Md.—While waiting for an infusion of a drug that might save his life, 15-year-old Andrew Marella gripped the controls of an NFL videogame, the hand-held version of a sport he played when he could still run without fear.

Andrew is in a clinical drug trial of cyclodextrin, a sugar-based substance that scientists hope will stop or slow the progress of a rare genetic disease that kills most patients by the time they are old enough to vote.

There is a good chance cyclodextrin will extend Andrew’s life. But his parents worry this will be the dose that leaves him deaf.

Families in the drug trial must decide whether to permit the higher doses of cyclodextrin that research shows might arrest the disease. Hearing loss is one side effect. “Deaf or death, what are our options?” said Andrea Marella, Andrew’s mother. “We have to keep moving forward.”

Read more  . . . Deaf or Death?


Auditory Pain Pathway May Protect Against Hearing Loss

February 24, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



BioScience Technology
February 19,2015
By Marla Paul, Northwestern University

Our hearing has a secret bodyguard: a newly discovered connection from the cochlea to the brain that warns of intense incoming noise that causes tissue damage and hearing loss, according to new research by Northwestern Medicine scientists.

Scientists believe they have identified the ear’s own novel pain system that protects it from very loud or damaging noise. It may be the reason you jam your fingers in your ears when a fire engine or ambulance wails close by. The nerves that normally alert you to pain – like touching a hot burner on a stove – are not present in your inner ear. So, it needs its own private alert system.

The discovery may provide insight into the cause and treatment for such painful hearing conditions as hyperacusis, an oversensitivity and earache in response to everyday sounds, common in soldiers exposed to explosives in the military, and tinnitus, a persistent and uncomfortable ringing in the ears.

The pathway, which scientists named auditory nociception (pain), is different from

Read More  . . . Pain

How Old Is Too Old for Cochlear Implant Reimplantation?

February 20, 2015 in Research, Technology



For people with severe to profound hearing loss, cochlear implants can restore hearing and improve quality of life. Initially FDA-approved in 1985, only individuals with bilateral profound sensorineural hearing loss with no open set speech recognition (in other words, some ability to understand speech without visual clues) were considered viable candidates for cochlear implants.  The criteria have become less rigid over time, and more people are eligible including those with more profound residual hearing and pre-implant speech recognition scores. Occasionally, devices fail or medical complications create a need for revision surgery and reimplantation. The incidence of revision surgery is low, but outcomes are variable.

Some studies have suggested that advanced age may be associated with poor post-revision outcomes. Investigators from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill have completed a study that asks whether advanced age should be a contraindication for revision cochlear implantation.

Read More  . . . Reimplantation

Scientists warn of a ‘deaf generation’ that will lose the ability to hear as nature intended . . .

February 19, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Scientists warn of a ‘deaf generation’ that will lose the ability to hear as nature intended as daily noise pollution reaches saturation levels

  • Generation exposed to constant noise could be losing the ability to hear
  • Noise pollution could be blocking out natural sounds that boost health
  • Hearing is ‘universal learning sense’ active even when we’re sleeping

A ‘deaf generation’ exposed to constant noise may be losing the ability to hear as nature intended, a sound expert has claimed.

As a result people could be missing out on the positive effects from natural sounds that contribute to good health and well-being, research suggests.

Dr Kurt Fristrup, who has monitored sound levels in 90 US national parks including Yosemite, Grand Teton and the Grand Canyon, stressed that hearing is a ‘universal learning sense’ active even when we are sleeping or anaesthetized.

Speaking at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in San Jose, California, he said: ‘It’s not surprising since we’re seeing more rapid growth in noise and in population in our cities, the built environment is providing lots of cues that we find annoying or aren’t relevant to us, that people are putting on earphones or even noise-cancelling earphones, to just try and create a quieter or more congenial environment.

‘Of course what they’re missing, what’s being lost, is the ability to hear threats that are real. It’s the cry wolf phenomenon.

‘There will be the occasional cue that really matters – for runners I worry about this – but more importantly, even in our cities there are birds; there are things to appreciate in the environment as well.
Read more . . . ‘deaf generation’ 

Schools Favor Inclusion When Forced To Report Academic Progress

February 19, 2015 in Community News, Disability Law, Research



Disability Scoop
February 13, 2015

As Congress debates the role of testing, a new report finds that schools with the greatest accountability for students with disabilities are most likely to promote inclusion.

Schools held to more stringent academic reporting standards are more likely to deliberately transition kids with disabilities from self-contained to mainstream classrooms, according to the study from the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute for Education Sciences.

The findings suggest that educators may be more motivated to help students with disabilities achieve alongside their typically-developing peers when schools must account for progress.

Under federal education law, schools must regularly measure and report on the academic performance of students with disabilities as part of their obligation to make adequate yearly progress. However, the requirement is waived for some schools if their population of students with disabilities falls below a minimum threshold set by states.

Looking at schools in 12 states, researchers found that elementary schools that always reported on the progress of their students with disabilities purposefully moved children from segregated to regular classrooms at a rate that was 15.8 percentage points higher than those who never made such accountability reports. Among middle schools, the difference rose to 16.7 percentage points, the study found.

For the report, schools were asked in 2011 about the previous five years. Researchers also reviewed federal government data for the years 2005 to 2008 to identify schools considered “always accountable” — those that had to report on students with disabilities each year — and schools that never had to provide accountability during the time period.

Read More  . . . Inclusion 

Urgent warning for teens who use headphones or earbuds

February 13, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



by Sarahbeth Ackerman
Feb 12, 2015

For many young people, cranking up the music is what everyone’s doing. And, the louder it gets, the better.  But, your ears may pay the price later on. Many health experts are urging music lovers to dial down the volume. Recent research suggests there could be link between using ear buds and mild hearing loss in teens. Because what you do now will affect you for years to come. And, there’s no turning back.

“Often times small amounts of hearing loss can be kind of subtle. And, not necessarily right away,” says Dr. Brian Nicholas, Assistant Professor of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences with Upstate University Hospital.

People who pop ear buds in for extended periods of time could be at risk for long-term damage. While you won’t have any noticeable signs immediately, the damage could creep up.

You may find yourself turning the volume up on your TV or phone, those are important warning signs.

If that happens to you, your ear is sending you a signal.

Read entire article  . . . Ear Buds (Video No Captions)



How Hearing Evolved from Water to Land

February 13, 2015 in Research



Science World Report
By Catherine Griffin
Feb 09, 2015

Lungfish and salamanders can hear, despite not having an outer ear or tympanic middle ear. Now, scientists are taking a closer look at exactly how hearing evolved about 300 million years ago.

The physical properties of air and tissue are very different. This means that up to 99.9 percent of sound energy is reflected when sound waves reach animals through the air. In humans and many other terrestrial vertebrates, the ear can be divided into three sections: the outer ear, the middle ear and the inner ear. The outer each catches the sounds waves and then directs them to the middle ear, where air pressure oscillations are transferred via the tympanic membrane and one of three small bones to fluid movements in the inner ear.

This configuration is important for hearing in present-day terrestrial animals. However, available fossils indicate that the tympanic middle ear evolved in the Triassic, which is 100 million years after the transition of the vertebrates from an aquatic to a terrestrial habitat during the Early Carboniferous.

In order to see how hearing evolved, the researchers studied the hearing of lungfish and salamanders, which have an ear structure that is comparable to different kinds of early terrestrial vertebrates. They measured auditory nerve signals and neural signals in the brainstem as a function of sound stimulation at different frequencies and different levels.

So what did they find? It turns out that the terrestrial adult salamanders and fully aquatic juvenile salamanders in addition to lungfish could detect airborne sound despite not having a tympanic middle ear. They sensed the vibrations induced by the sound waves.

The findings reveal a bit more about the evolution of hearing. More specifically, it shows that even vertebrates without outer and middle ears are capable of detecting airborne sound.

The findings are published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences and The Journal of Experimental Biology.

Science World Report Article Source  . . . . Hearing

 Related Article from American Association for the Advancement of Science - Early land animals heard sounds with their lungs


February 12, 2015 in Community News, Research




The Rehabilitation Engineering Research Center on Telecommunications Access at Gallaudet University is conducting an online survey to learn about the experiences of adults who are hard of hearing, deaf or have hearing loss in their use of voice telecommunications technology in the U.S. (regular telephones, cell phones, captioned phones, Skype, etc.).

Our goal is to better understand how such adults use current voice telecommunications technology, what barriers they face using it, and what needs they have for improved accessibility. This is a particularly relevant topic right now as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is currently seeking updated information to assess whether the Commission’s HAC (hearing aid compatibility) rules effectively meet the needs of individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. Summary data from the survey will be used to update the FCC.

For the purposes of this survey, voice telecommunications means that you both listen and talk for yourself during telephone calls, even if you also supplement your listening experience by using text (for example, relay or captioning) to read what the other person on the call is saying while you listen.

To take this survey you:

  1. must be 18 years or older
  2. have hearing loss and
  3. use voice telecommunications regularly (at least once a week).
  4. have access to the Internet in order to complete the survey.

The survey will take approximately 15-30 minutes to complete, depending on the extent of your telephone use.

If you completed the survey before, please do not complete it again. Please complete this survey only once.

To participate in the survey go to

For questions about the survey, contact:
Linda Kozma-Spytek at

This study has been approved by the Gallaudet University Institutional Review Board.



Visual skills, technology key for ad agency’s hearing-impaired co-founder

January 23, 2015 in Community News, Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research, Technology



Geoff Akins sees things others don’t.

The Newport Beach visual arts entrepreneur, who co-founded advertising agency AkinsParker 10 years ago, has been the creative force behind campaigns for brands like Toyota Racing Development, Tiger Woods Foundation and Lexus F-Sport.

Akins is profoundly deaf. But he says he can sense what clients and audiences are feeling and translate that into his work. He’s adept at picking up on a client’s actions in subtle visual traits.

“My hearing impairment makes me uniquely skilled at some things as well,” he said. “For example, I’m pretty in tune with body language and unspoken communication, especially interpersonal communication.”

According to research at UC Davis and UC Irvine, deaf people are quicker at recognizing and interpreting body language than those who can hear.

David Corina, professor in the UC Davis Department of Linguistics and Center for Mind and Brain and graduate student Michael Grosvald, now a post-doctoral scholar at UCI, measured the response times of deaf and hearing people to a series of video clips showing people making American Sign Language signs or “non language” gestures, such as stroking the chin.

“The real surprise was that deaf people were about 100 milliseconds faster at recognizing non-language gestures than were hearing people,” said Corina, whose work was published in the 2012 journal Cognition.

Read Entire Article

Prototype Retainer Could Help Hearing-Impaired ‘Listen’ With Their Tongues

January 15, 2015 in Community News, Research




Popular Science
 Loren Grush
January 14,2015

For individuals with significant hearing loss, cochlear implants have proven to be an incredible tool for regaining some sense of sound. Yet the small, electronic device, which works by stimulating an individual’s auditory nerve, requires both surgical implantation and a hefty wallet. (The combination of the device and insertion procedure can cost upwards of $40,000.)

Now, in the quest to find more practical solutions for the hearing impaired, researchers at Colorado State University are turning to an unlikely organ for help: the tongue. The three-person research team has developed a Bluetooth-enabled microphone earpiece along with a smart retainer that fits on a person’s tongue. The two devices work in tandem to strengthen a partially deaf person’s ability to recognize words.

Make no mistake: The tongue is not some magical conduit to the organs in your ear. The retainer/earpiece system works by reprogramming areas of the brain, helping them to interpret various sensations on the tongue as certain words.

Read More  . . .

Tinnitus, high-frequency hearing loss increase injury risk: study

January 15, 2015 in Research



Safety & Health
January 14, 2015

New Haven, CT – Workers with a history of tinnitus (ringing in the ear) in conjunction with high-frequency hearing loss are more likely to be injured, according to a study from Yale University.

Researchers analyzed more than 9,900 production and maintenance workers who were employed at six aluminum manufacturing plants from 2003 to 2008. Researchers adjusted for ambient noise exposure as part of the project.

The risk of acute injury was 25 percent greater among workers with tinnitus and high-frequency hearing loss. Workers with tinnitus and low-frequency hearing loss did not face the same risk of acute injury but were more likely to sustain minor injuries.

At-risk workers in noisy work environments might require an additional examination of their communication and hearing protection needs, researchers said.

The Portland, OR-based American Tinnitus Association recommends that people who believe they have tinnitus contact an audiologist, otologist or otolaryngologist for an examination. Tinnitus affects an estimated 50 million people in the United States, ATA said, but only 16 million have sought medical attention for the condition.

The study was published Dec. 30 in the International Journal of Audiology.

Read Original Article . . .

Can Deaf People Hear Voices?

January 7, 2015 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Jemima Hodkinson – Mosaic

One man experiences a voice projected in his brain “like a ghost”. A woman hears voices “shouting through her stomach” accompanied by “black, shadowy lips”; another hears her sister’s voice talking to her at night when she is in bed “like it is coming from a transmitter or a radio”.

These three people are deaf. They, along with 50 per cent of all deaf people with schizophrenia, ‘hear’ voices. It is hard to imagine an experience more strange, unsettling and counterintuitive. Research carried out recently has begun to unpick this contradictory psychological phenomenon, and may change the way that voice hallucinations are understood in hearing people too.

Trawl back through the research on voice hallucinations in deaf people and you will find plenty of case reports and studies to support their existence. Yet there is little consensus on what they actually consist of. So while plenty of psychologists supported the idea that deaf individuals – even those deaf from birth – could actually hear the voices, one researcher was unconvinced.

Joanna Atkinson is a researcher and a clinical psychologist based at University College London. She is also deaf. The idea that deaf people could really hear the voices that they hallucinated jarred with her day-to-day clinical experience. Whenever she asked a profoundly deaf person that question, she would receive the same incredulous response: “No, of course not – I am deaf.”

Yet when these same individuals were assessed by psychiatrists who could hear, using a sign language interpreter, they would describe their experience using hearing-related terms – loud, or low, or quiet – that suggested they were in fact hearing sound. What could they be experiencing?

Joanna believed that something had been lost in translation. Through her own observations and experience of deafness, she “realised they were borrowing the language of the hearing majority and psychiatric field, rather than meaning they could hear sound”. These subtle differences in language are what make this research so challenging: for a deaf person, someone could ‘shout’ at them by signing aggressively without making any sound. The inherent difficulty of explaining complex hallucinations and sensations is therefore compounded by the need to translate between different frames of reference.

Read entire Article 

Management of Hearing Loss Prevention in Live Entertainment

December 19, 2014 in Hearing Loss & Deafness, Research



Robert M. Ghent Jr., AuD
December 15, 2014

Editor’s Note: This text course is an edited transcript of a live webinar. Download supplemental course materials.

Dr. Robert Ghent: Today I’m going to discuss management of hearing loss prevention in live entertainment. I’ll cover why this area has not been more recognized and what opportunities are available for audiologists. I’ll also talk about what management of hearing loss means in the live entertainment industry. Live entertainment includes sporting events, racing events, and concerts of all types, not just rock and roll, but the primary focus today is on music events.

I work for Honeywell Safety Products. Many of the pictures in your handout are of Honeywell products because I have easy access to those images, but there are other products that are included as well. The use of these images does not constitute an endorsement any of these products. I would also like to take this opportunity to acknowledge Mr. Nick Mayne of the Canterbury City Council in Kent, England, for providing me with some data from a study that I’ll be discussing. Additionally, portions of this presentation were previously presented at the 47th Conference of the Audio Engineering Society (AES), on Music-Induced Hearing Loss in 2012, as well as at the 38th Annual National Hearing Conservation Association (NHCA) Conference in 2013.


In 1964, the Beatles came to the United States and performed at Shea Stadium. Few fans could hear them, and the Beatles could not hear themselves well because the audience was so loud. There was a problem with getting sound distributed over a crowd of screaming people that large. In the ensuing 10 years, we significantly advanced the technology of concert sound reinforcement.

When I was a senior in high school, I got a job at Tycobrahe Sound Company. They were contracted to provide the sound for a large festival show, second only to Woodstock at the time. So, in 1974, we did The California Jam. A magazine article covering this show touted 54,000 watts of audio power. We generated 105 dB SPL a mile away, and we were awed by such a great achievement. Can you imagine how loud it had to be in front of the speaker tower in order to measure 105 dB SPL at one mile down wind?  This is how I started my career.

Problem Statement

Hearing conservation has never been a part of the live entertainment culture, despite knowledge of the problems and risks. The entertainment industry knows there are some regulations, but those typically apply to brick-and-mortar industries, and entertainment does not know how to apply them in their own industry. Fortunately, we see this starting to change, and this is a good opportunity for audiologists to do something to help this industry.

Read More  . . .