German researchers at the Univeristy of Gottingen are performing studies on the use of light to stimulate gerbils? auditory neurons, with potential applications to the design of improved cochlear implants. Cochlear implants, despite improvements in their design and capabilities, still have trouble filtering out sounds in environments with lots of ambient noise. It is believed that the light-based stimulation of auditory nerves could be more precisely controlled than electricity-based implants. While the research thus far definitely holds promise, further studies are needed before it can be applied to implants used by humans.
- Researchers in Germany used light to stimulate the auditory nerves of deaf gerbils, which allowed them to hear sounds.
- While cochlear implants have been gaining in popularity, their frequency resolution needs to be improved so people can hear in noisy places.
- The light-based research that was conducted on gerbils may soon be used on larger animals and, eventually, on humans.
“The technology is being developed to improve the audio quality of cochlear implants, devices that can bring hearing to people with several types of hearing loss.”