|MadSci Network: Neuroscience|
Dear Doctor Ring Ding, Right now, the cutting edge treatment for damaged cochlear nerves is the cochlear implant. A cochlear implant is a device which restores some hearing in severely-to-profoundly deaf people when the cochlea either has not developed or has been destroyed by disease or injury to such an extent that hearing cannot be aided by a regular hearing aid. Basically, a cochlear implant artificially replaces the electrical stimuluation that the (healthy) coclear nerve typically passes upstream to the brain. The auditory perception of cochlear implant users is not much like that experienced by people with normally-functioning auditory pathways - it is quite a bit more crude. However, the improvement in hearing that a cochlear implant provides to a severely-to-profoundly deaf person can be substantial. When implants are made early, severely deaf children can sometimes hear well enough to learn to speak fairly fluently. The top-of-the-line cochlear implants of today are known as "multiple-channel" cochlear implants. This just means that the devices are able to transmit information along more than one channel, thus improving the fidelity of the sound. If you have further questions, please feel free to email me. Lori L. Holt
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