Individual progression of hearing difficulties in adults and children

Lead Research Organisation: MRC Institute of Hearing Research

Abstract

Many people have a hearing loss, especially if they are older adults. Question is, if a person has a hearing loss now, how accurately can we predict how much worse their hearing loss will get in the future? How well can we predict who of those people who do not have a hearing loss will stay that way? Some children are diagnosed with Auditory Processing Disorder – how does that progress? Does it continue, deteriorate, or even recover as people age? The purpose of the research in this programme is to develop the science to answer some of these questions. As well as giving important new science, the research will be of assistance in measuring the effectiveness of hearing screening programs, as well as perhaps helping to predict who will gain benefit from any innovative new treatments that result from future discoveries in the biomedical science of hearing.

Technical Summary

How does hearing impairment progress in an individual? It is well known that the prevalence of hearing loss increases rapidly with older age, especially for people in the sixties, seventies or older, and many of the major risk factors have been identified. Much less, however, is known about the rate and manner at which an individual’s own hearing deteriorates: how accurately can one predict someone’s future hearing? Many previous longitudinal studies of hearing have used only questionnaires or pure-tone audiometry to measure hearing, yet recent scientific and clinical advances in hearing have shown that hearing impairment can manifest in ways that are hidden in the audiogram – “hidden hearing loss” – such as in temporal-fine structure tests, signal-to-noise ratio tests, spatial-hearing tests, speech-in-speech tests. Hearing difficulties also occur in children, and though some are well understood, the progression of some types, especially auditory processing disorder, are far less clear. The scientific questions underpinning this research programme therefore include (1) does a temporal fine structure loss prefigure a later threshold loss (or vice versa)? (2) with what accuracy can a prediction be given about someone’s hearing impairment in 5 or 10 years? (3) are the risk factors for the other domains of hearing the same (and apply to the same strength) as for thresholds? (4) can we develop suitable clinical tests? This programme will deliver fundamental scientific data on how hearing difficulties progress in adults and children. This new science may also be of relevance to any future NHS national screening programme for hearing loss, as data on the progression will be crucial to determining the effectiveness of screening tests, as well as perhaps defining who will be prime candidates for innovative treatments from future discoveries.
 
Description NICE guidelines
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Honorary appt - NAL 
Organisation National Acoustics Laboratory
Country Australia 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution We have started a long-term collaboration with leading scientists at NAL, Sydney
Collaborator Contribution Expertise in hearing-aid devices, fitting and services
Impact none yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Multimodal spatial hearing 
Organisation Newcastle University
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am leading a collaboration looking at how cross-modal influences affect auditory spatial location. This has resulted in a new MRC programme grant
Collaborator Contribution My collaborators' contributions are in expertise of vision, selective attention, and spatial hearing
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description Multimodal spatial hearing 
Organisation Vanderbilt University
Department Vanderbilt Medical Center
Country United States 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution I am leading a collaboration looking at how cross-modal influences affect auditory spatial location. This has resulted in a new MRC programme grant
Collaborator Contribution My collaborators' contributions are in expertise of vision, selective attention, and spatial hearing
Impact None yet
Start Year 2017
 
Description AoHL Technology Day 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Supporters
Results and Impact A keynote talk at the Action on Hearing Loss Technology event . This gave a personal view of the future of hearing technology and what can (or cannot be done)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://www.actiononhearingloss.org.uk/