PLOS ONE publication by Valeriy Shafiro, Ph.D.
Capita Foundation is pleased to announce that Valeriy Shafiro, Ph.D., who was awarded a grant from us in 2012 for a research project titled, "Environmental sound and speech perception in relation to language development in children with cochlear implants," has recently published a research report in PLOS ONE. 

Link to report:  http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0167030

We congratulate Valeriy and all his contributors for the exceptional work.

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Announcing 2015 Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) grant award recipients

Amanda Lauer, Ph.D.

Johns Hopkins University, Dept. of Otolaryngology


  




Project Title: “Optimizing hearing with top-down brain control of the ear.”  





Project Description

The overall goal of my research is to understand how auditory input from the ear affects the brain, and how the brain in turn affects the ear through efferent feedback loops. I am particularly interested in understanding the hearing disorders that develop when input to and from the brain is altered. We propose to study top-down efferent effects on hearing to understand how the brain controls the ear using optogenetic, behavioral, and immunohistochemical techniques in rodent models. Understanding how these pathways work may open up new treatment avenues for hearing disorders and will help us understand how hearing is optimized by top-down brain control of cochlear activity.


Medial (MOC) and lateral olivocochlear (LOC) neurons project from the brain to the ear and control information sent back to the brain. Adapted from Lauer et al. (2012). Neurobiology of Aging.


Sanjee Abeytunge

The Rockefeller University

Project Title:  "A Novel Micro-probe for Direct Stimulation of Cochlear Hair Cells




The ear is the fastest and most sensitive sensory organ in the human body. It can resolve data a thousand times faster than the eye and can detect vibrations in the environment at the atomic-scale. The dynamic range of human hearing embraces up to 120 dB of sound-pressure level (SPL). This dynamic range allows humans to hear a millionfold range of amplitudes. The frequency response of a human ear extends to 20 kHz while other mammals, such as whales and bats, can hear up to hundreds of kilohertz. However, the current stimulation probes of hair cells in the cochlea, the sense organ of the ear, to study the mechanics of the inner ear is limited to less than 1 kHz. This limitation leaves most of the mammalian auditory frequencies unstudied. This experimental limitation is due to the physical dimensions of the probes and their configurations used during experiments. My work is design and construction of a micrometer scale novel probe that will overcome the current frequency limitation.




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A World Without Barriers
"Hearing Hands", an ad campaign for Samsung of Turkey, brought the small suburban community of Bagcilar together for one man by the name of Muharram.  

With no more than a month of planning, Muharram became the center of an extraordinary stunt. Take a look below to see how Samsung heart-warmingly created a "World with no barriers".

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Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory

"Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory," is a story of hope.  The captivating documentary follows social worker Dan Cohen, founder of the nonprofit organization Music & Memory, as he fights against a broken healthcare system to demonstrate music's ability to combat memory loss and restore a deep sense of self to those suffering from it.

Filmmaker Michael Rossato-Bennett chronicles the astonishing experiences of individuals around the country who have been revitalized through the simple experience of listening to music. His camera reveals the uniquely human connection we find in music and how its healing power can triumph where prescription medication falls short.



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When Sound and Touch Collide: A Little Synesthesia Exists in All of Us

Everyone knows the feeling -  the chills when you hear that one song, or the painful shivering at the sound of nails against a chalkboard.   Now, imagine if your body continuously heard sound through its skin.

Sherrilyn Roush is the first reported individual to have developed this form of synesthesia, a neurological mix-up of senses, after a stroke that left her numb in the left side of her body.  Researcher Tony Ro was lucky enough to study her incredible anomaly, and his theoretical findings are monumental.  He believes sense of hearing may have evolved from a sense of feeling, and that Roush’s merging of sound and touch is just an exaggerated version of what happens in all of our brains. Although speculative, it’s possible that what scientists now interpret as a merger of sound and touch might actually be a reflection of an earlier state in which the two senses were one.

Read the extraordinary story that led to this theory, here.

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Why Some Cultures Don't 'Mind' Auditory Hallucinations


An auditory hallucination is a form of hallucination that involves perceiving sounds without auditory stimulus.  Although an alluding stigma of mental disorders may cause you to think that auditory hallucinations rarely stray from harsh and threatening, 'voice-hearing' can be quite the contrary. 

A new study suggests that schizophrenic people in more collectivist societies sometimes think their auditory hallucinations are helpful. Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.

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The Distorition of Sound
quincy_jones 



81 years young with 27 Grammys under his belt, Quincy Jones is the musical titan of the 20th century.  But what does he have to say about music of the 21st century?

Harman Kardon's new documentary, The Distortion of Sound, ventures into the complex pros and cons of music of the digital age.  Whilst the documentary contends a generation of music lovers being 'raised on low-grade sonic sludge', Jones' has a new dedication to soul and sound, which is making certain that music shall be heard and enjoyed in the way that its creators intend.

Take a look at the firm, here!

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Making Instruments, Not Just Music: A Competition for Inventors

The Margaret Guthman Musical Instrument Competition at the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta, attracts instrument inventors from around the globe to compete for $10,000 worth of prizes in addition to recognition for their design, performance, and engineering ingenuity. 

The competition is designed to showcase how extraordinary ideas have the potential to change the way music is made and experienced.  Diverse participants shatter conventional boundaries and uniquely challenge the norms of musicality.  Take a look at some of the incredibly imaginative masterpieces, here!

By Bruno Verbrugghe & Jules Hotrique, France

By Christophe d'Alessandro, Boris Doval, 
Lionel Feugere, Olivier Perrotin, France

 SECOND PLACE: ndial
By Peter Bussigel, USA

 THIRD PLACE: PushPull
By Dominik Hildebrand Marques Lopes, 
Amelie Hinrichsen, & Till Bovermann, Germany
f
Nomis, By Jonathan Sparks, USA

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Harvard and M.I.T. Are Sued Over Lack of Closed Captions


Advocates for the deaf filed federal lawsuits against Harvard and M.I.T., saying both universities violated antidiscrimination laws by failing to provide closed captioning in their online lectures, courses, podcasts and other educational materials.

The lawsuits, filed by the National Association of the Deaf, which is seeking class-action status, say the universities have “largely denied access to this content to the approximately 48 million — nearly one out of five — Americans who are deaf or hard of hearing.”

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Meet Jonathan Lamberton, New York's New Favorite ASL Interpreter

Jonathan Lamberton, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s sign language interpreter, is getting a blizzard of attention for his highly animated ways that were on full display during recent weather briefings.

Mr. Lamberton, 38, is deaf, a relative rarity in his profession, and he uses an innovative form of interpreting that can be easier for some hearing-impaired people to understand.




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One School's Mission to Help Deaf Children 'Hear'


The college has installed an interactive light studio at the American Sign Language and English Lower School in New York City.  Equipped with a wall-mounted digital-projection system and specially designed computer programs, the studio enables the children to visualize sound, and further, uniquely understand and experience it.

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Deaf People 'Feel Touch' With Hearing Part of Brain

Fullscreen_capture_7122012_112834_AM.jpg










The brain is capable of rewiring itself in extraordinary ways.  Individuals who are born deaf use the "hearing" part of their brain, the auditory cortex, to process both touch and visual stimuli.

"If scientists could measure how much the auditory cortex has been hijacked for other sensory processing, they might be able to figure out how to retrain the brain to devote more capacity to auditory processing instead."

Read more here.

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The Link Between Hearing Loss and Dementia
person taking hearing testA new study has found that people who experience significant hearing loss as they age may also be at higher risk of developing dementia.

“By the year 2050, 1 in 30 Americans are predicted to suffer from dementia, so we’re hoping this new research will help in developing interventions,” says Dr. Frank Lin, an assistant professor of otolaryngology and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins, who directed the study.

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An Eerie Eye-Opener, a Must-See - The Tribe
Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy has defied conventional film making in his uniquely gripping and brilliant film, "The Tribe."  A historical debut of an entirely silent film, The Tribe serves as a potent cocktail of a spell-binding premise, disturbing minutiae, and layers of extraordinary depth.  This film is sure to move you, shake you, and engulf you in rumination.

An eerie eye-opener, a must-see. 




 

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NHS Accused of ‘Cruel’ Rationing of Hearing Aids

hearing aids elderly coupleCampaigners are accusing the NHS of imposing “cruel” cuts on people who are going deaf by denying them the hearing aids they need. Due to financial challenges, growing numbers of NHS organizations are planning to ration access to the devices, even though they help to combat dementia, depression and social isolation among the hard of hearing.


“To deny somebody the right to a good quality of life – the opportunity to be an active member of the community, interact with family and friends, or even to continue working – is akin to saying to someone, ‘I can make your life better by giving you hearing aids but I’m not going to’. It’s wrong, it’s cruel,” said Louise Hart, of Action on Hearing Loss.

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Announcing 2014 Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) Grant Award Recipients

 
Didier A Depireux, Ph.D.
     
Inst. for Systems Research   
School of Engineering, University of Maryland, College Park 
 
Project Title:  Optimizing delivery of drugs to the middle ear without tympanostomy”

Over the years, my research has focused on the sense of hearing, in sickness and in health. In particular, after developing a rat model of noise-induced tinnitus, I was struck by the lack of methods to deliver drugs to the ear only, bypassing the severe side-effects of most (for instance, oral) treatments. Over the last several years, we have developed a magnetically assisted drug delivery method using biocompatible drug-eluting nanoparticles which allows us to deliver therapeutic drug levels in the cochlea only. More recently, we realized that this method could be used to deliver antibiotics and other drugs from the ear canal to the middle ear, without the need for tympanostomy tubes. 
 
Our long-term goal is to improve and transform the treatment of ear infections by delivering medications into the middle ear with nanoparticles magnetically pushed through the tympanic membrane which remains intact. Ear infections are the leading cause of visits to pediatricians. In the US, there are ~15 million cases/yr of acute ear infections in children less than 5 years of age. About 20% of these children will progress to chronic ear infections with effusion of fluids in the middle ear. Tympanostomy tube placement under general anesthesia for the treatment of recurrent or chronic ear infections is the most common pediatric surgery requiring anesthesia in the US. This crucial Capita foundation grant will allow us to obtain the preliminary data necessary to establish the validity of the method and some optimal parameters for maximal drug delivery.
 
Jason A. Beyea, M.D., Ph.D., FRCSC
 
Ohio State University Eye and Ear Institute

Project Title: Cochlear Hair Cell Regeneration using Adipose Stem Cells in NIHL.”
This research seeks to use a novel source of stem cells, adipose-derived stem cells, to regenerate lost cochlear hair cells in an attempt to improve hearing in a chinchilla model of noise-induced hearing loss.
 

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Novel hearing aids lead to bionic future of disability devices


Two brand new models of advanced hearing aids can be adjusted with exquisite precision through software built into Apple’s iPhone. They NOW allow fine-grain control over acoustic systems. “This state-of-the-art technology will give people with hearing loss the ability to outperform their normal-hearing counterparts,” said Dave Fabry, a Starkey vice president, whose company along with GN ReSound Linx developed this technology, each independently.

 Researchers from both Starkey and GN ReSound used the iPhone as a way to correct problems that had forever hampered hearing aids using a low-power version of Bluetooth wireless technology. The phone could act as a remote control, a brain, and an auxiliary microphone and it would finally let people make phone calls and listen to music without carrying a wireless device.


“I’m surprised they haven’t done this earlier — putting it all in an app, that seems so obvious these days,” said Todd Chamberlain, a 39 year-old industrial safety officer who has worn hearing aids since he was 3 years old.
original New York Times article






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Sailing to Honor Capita Grant Recipients and 37th ARO MidWinter Meeting
On Monday, February 24th, a group of  Capita Foundation Auditory Research (CFAR) awardees boarded the Shine On schooner loaded with beer and tamales to sail San Diego Bay.

The best hearing researchers and scientists were in town for the 37th ARO Meeting, a conference showcasing innovative and advancing research in Otolaryngology, which took place February 22-26 in San Diego's sunshine.

A very special thanks goes out to Dockmaster Neil Wilson, of Fifth Avenue Landing, for making this event possible.

Northwestern's Claus-Peter Richter, M.D., Ph.D. led talks about decreases in  federal funding for research.  Looking to private sources as well as how to get out the good word about Capita and other private foundations were among the proposed solutions discussed.  Alyssa Wheeler, Ph.D., suggested we show the significance of all this great work in a Youtube, e.g. Boy Hears for the First Time.

Aboard the Shine On schooner


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Infant Sleep Machines at Maximum Volume Reported as Hearing Risk

Sound devices used to lull infants to sleep can be loud enough at maximum volume to damage their hearing, researchers reported Monday. 

Researchers at the University of Toronto evaluated 14 popular sleep machines at maximum volume and found they produced between 68.8 to 92.9 decibels at 30 centimeters, about the distance one might be placed from an infant’s head. Three exceeded 85 decibels, the workplace safety limit for adults on an eight-hour shift for accumulated exposure (NIOSH). At 100 centimeters, all the machines tested were louder than the 50-decibel limit averaged over an hour set for hospital nurseries in 1999 by an expert panel concerned with improving newborn sleep and their speech intelligibility.
“Farther away is less dangerous, a lower volume is better and shorter durations of time, all things that deliver less sound pressure to the baby,” Dr. Papsin said. Yet some models are designed to be affixed to the crib.
A concern is whether listening to white noise can be detrimental to auditory development. A 2003 study (Science) found continuous white noise delayed development of the brain’s hearing center in newborn rats. In humans, the brain of a newborn is learning to differentiate sounds at different pitches even during sleep, said Lisa L. Hunter, scientific director of research in the division of audiology at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. “If you’ve conditioned them to white noise...they might not be as responsive as they otherwise should be to soft speech,” she said.
 (original article by Catherine Saint Louis from March 3, 2014 New York Times)

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When Hands Talk, Be Careful Where You Point
Written by Nina Raine, “Tribes” is a comic drama about that revolves around Billy, a young deaf man at odds with his intellectual and argumentative working-class family in London. Some posters feature American Sign Language, which is used in the show, and display different design approaches.












(original New York Times article by Erik Piepenburg)
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