11 August 2009

Practice makes for better hearing

Hearing related processes in the brain can be affected by intensive training, according to experiments with rats. The finding may someday benefit children with auditory processing disorder.

A Chinese-American team of researchers have succeeded in training young rats to better discriminate between relevant sounds and background noise. The researchers used intensive behavioral training, rewarding rats for reacting to certain sounds.

The effects in the brains of the rats were demonstrated and found to last at least two months after cessation of the training. In some instances full hearing was restored in rats with noise induced hearing loss.

The experiment showed that hearing related processes in the brain can be affected through training. This could lead to the development of techniques to improve people's ability to discriminate sounds. The researchers identified children with auditory processing disorder as one group who may someday benefit from such a technique.

Sources: www.nature.com, Reuters

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