Researchers from the Center for Applied Hearing Research at the Technical University of Denmark have developed a new test for diagnosing hearing problems. Using specially designed sound signals the test can help determine whether the cause of a hearing loss is to be found in the inner ear or in the brain.
The person being tested listens to sounds in a headset. If the subject identifies the sounds as a tune or specific pattern, the central hearing in the brain is normal and the cause of the hearing loss must be located in the inner ear. If the subject perceives the sounds as jumbled noise, this is an indication that the damage is located in the brain.
The test can be conducted in a matter of minutes, and the results can be used when fitting hearing aids. The knowledge about the interplay between ears and brain on which the test is based is also useful in the development of new types of hearing aids.
Hearing loss from inner ear damage can be mitigated with hearing aids. Brain based hearing loss is harder to treat.