Occasional posts on subjects including field recording, London history and literature, other websites worth looking at, articles in the press, and news of sound-related events.

20 May 2010

Sounds of hearing lost and recovered

RECENTLY I’VE BEEN helping to put together and produce a promotional CD for Deafness Research UK, the medical charity whose logo and link appear on the London Sound Survey home page.

The CD features some field recordings from the collection, and what’s of real interest is how scientists from the UCL Ear Institute have modified them to simulate a range of hearing loss conditions.

On the following track, UCL Research Fellow Dr Bradford Backus introduces a simulation of hearing loss with pure tone tinnitus. (The original recording of a pub singalong at the Duke of Kendal can be found here.)

Cochlear implants are devices which turn sound into electrical signals and conduct them directly to the auditory nerve. Damaged cochlear hair cells are thus bypassed in the process and a semblance of hearing is returned to profoundly or completely deaf people.

Deafness Research UK are supporting the development of more effective cochlear implants, as well as services such as assessment, fitting and rehabilitation procedures for children. The following is an extract from a simulation of how a busker playing the saxophone would sound with the aid of such an implant (the original, unmodified recording can be found here):

The results may sound rudimentary, but it is a remarkable achievement nonetheless. Cochlear implants can be particularly helpful in regaining some ability to hear and understand speech, and improvements are being made to extend the range of auditory information they provide.

If you want to play a part in supporting such research, then visit Deafness Research UK’s website and find out about the different ways you can help.

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