Re-developing Hearing with Neural Network Implants

A research team from the Yonsei University College of Medicine, including Dr. Choi Jae Young, have recently completed a neural implant surgery on a young female patient to help her regain lost hearing. Although the girl’s brain functions normally, she has a damaged nerve that transmits auditory signals from her ear to her brain stem.

The implanted device converts sound into digital signal and transmits this to the brain stem and further processing in the brain. The details of the work is not clear in the posted media report below, and no published research with the results has yet been found by Neuron News (but, we’ll post updates as soon as possible).

Presumably, the electrical information transmitted by the computer chip implant is being received by the brain, but the child’s brain must first train itself to interpret the signals into meaningful patterns. The girl may have never before heard sound–let alone process and interpret sound–so, this work might also be an extremely interesting observation of how well the brain can take new electrical signals and integrate them successfully into a brain state that might be considered “normal” to another human who was born with complete hearing capabilities.

Will the girl hear differently, in some way, than other humans? Will we ever be able to determine if she is interpreting sounds in different ways, even if her brain figures out a way to process the signals and still interact with its environment “normally”?

“Doctors Use Artificial Network to Help Hearing Impaired” :: Arirang News IT/Science :: July 22, 2008 :: [ READ ]

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Last updated January 15, 2021