Wired for Sound – Advancements In Cochlear Implants

By Eimear O' Carroll on 4th August 2016

A couple of weeks ago we had the pleasure of attending a Creative Minds Series talk, hosted by the US Ambassador to Ireland, Kevin O’Malley. The Creative Minds Series invites prominent U.S. innovators and artists to share their expertise with Irish audiences. The goal is to create new collaborations and encourage more creative linkages between the United States and Ireland.

This instalment in the series was called Wired for Sound – Advancements In Cochlear Implants Cochlear Implants and included discussions on the history of cochlear implant science, both in Ireland and in the US, and the future of the technology.

Speakers ranged from engineers and audiologists, to adults and children with cochlear implants. The academic institutions involved in the event were The Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Vanderbilt University and the Vanderbilt Institute of Surgery and Engineering.

The Ambassador gathered people from the hearing and health sector in Ireland – including some of the DeafHear team and Caroline Carswell from Sound Advice – for an evening of talks and community building.

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The speakers detailed recent advancements in cochlear implants, which were fascinating. Typically cochlear implant recipients can experience a lot of background noise from the sensors. In a study at Vanderbilt University they found that turning off selected sensors improved the sound quality dramatically. They’re now rolling this out into extended studies and involving greater numbers of patients.

The new cochlear scanning technology presented was also riveting. It is now possible to take 3D scans of the cochlea and model this in computer imagery. This technology is beginning to advance the ways in which we understand the cochlea, and thus the ways in which cochlear disorders are treated.

We thoroughly enjoyed the evening of scientific discussion, and learned a lot about the future of cochlear implants. We’d like to thank the Ambassador for hosting this great event and for highlighting the important field of auditory research.

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