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New technologies for communication in the hearing impaired


This concerted action proposed to examine certain new technologies for their potential applications to the diagnosis and rehabilitation of hearing impairment. We identified the problems of hearing impairment in the neonate and in the elderly as being the priority areas for the action.
The research programme dealt with the application of new technologies for diagnosis and rehabilitation of the hearing impared. It included a specific section on functional histopathology of the human audiovestibular organ. An importantaspect was the agreement of the major European laboratories to receive and process human temporal bones sent by otolarygologists, audiologists and pathologists who lack the facilities to carry out such processing. A manual describing the procedures for perfusing and removing human temporal bones at autopsy, autopsy legislation in the European countries and a list of major European laboratories is currently available. Another major activity has been a series of Workshops on human auditory and vestibular histopathology.
The principal area of interest was the design and application of signal processing hearing aids. We proposed to establish a network of relevant European groups and to evaluate the current state of European research on this topic, including signal processing hardware and software. We also proposed to promote the application of signal processing strategies used in cochlear implant work to applications in hearing aids for the profoundly deaf. This area of activity relates closely to our concern with ageing, since hearing impairment is a major disorder of the elderly and, in Europe, elderly patients predominate among the profoundly deaf.

We also proposed to review the technologies available for neonatal screening for hearing impairment, and to set up a network of laboratories working on this topic, and particularly on otoacoustic emissions. We proposed creating a network of active groups specifically interested in hearing impairment in the elderly population. We proposed evaluating the use of evoked neuromagnetic activity for giving diagnostic information about the auditory cortex. Finally, we proposed to maintain a network of European groups working on histopathology of the human temporal bone, and to focus the attention of these groups on problems related to early development and ageing.


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