TOP NEWS and HEADLINES in August

  • Hearing Aid Tax Credit Draws 100th Cosponsor
  • Speech Recognition Improved with New Hearing Aid Software
  • EPA Promises Update of Hearing Protection Device Rules
  • Software Allows Audiologists to Make Virtual Housecalls
  • New York Times “Discovers” Hearing Problem
  • Inner Ear, or Brain? New Test Determines Source of Hearing Damage
  • Researchers Identify Brain’s Speech Processing Mechanism
  • HearUSA Plans October Intro of AARP-Branded Hearing Care Program
  • New Study Finds Hearing Improved Through Music
  • Oticon’s Dual Is Music to Stephen Stills’ Ears
  • Neural Pathway Missing In Tone-Deaf People


  • HearUSA-AARP program to launch in Florida and New Jersey next month. HearUSA Inc has announced plans for an October introduction of the initial phase of a hearing care program exclusively for the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) members in Florida and New Jersey. The company has plans to eventually extend the program to all AARP members.
    Last August, HearUSA and AARP announced the formation of their partnership to supply hearing care solutions for the association’s 39-plus million members. Originally scheduled to become available in the fourth quarter of 2008, the program was subsequently delayed (see HR Online News). It calls for HearUSA’s nationwide network of hearing care providers to offer all AARP members reduced costs, uniform pricing, and extended warranties on its selection of digital hearing aids and related products, plus personal hearing rehabilitation services. According to HearUSA, when fully implemented, the AARP-branded hearing care program will require a nationwide network of least 5,000 independent hearing care providers, and the company is reaching out to qualified hearing care professionals throughout the nation and offering them the opportunity to participate in the program.
  • Is it central or is it the ear? According to Hear-it.org, researchers from the Center for Applied Hearing Research at the Technical University of Denmark have reportedly developed a new test for diagnosing hearing problems. Using specially designed sound signals, the test can determine whether the cause of hearing loss 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, that indicates central hearing in the brain is functioning and the cause of the hearing loss is 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 reportedly can be conducted in a matter of minutes.
  • Advances in how the brain decodes speech signals. Researchers from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem have succeeded for the first time in devising a model that describes and identifies a basic cellular mechanism that enables networks of neurons to efficiently decode speech in changing conditions. Research associate Dr Robert Gütig and Professor Haim Sompolinsky have succeeded in describing a cellular process by which sensory neurons in the brain can automatically adjust their perceptual clocks and thus correct large temporal variations in the rate of sounds and speech that arrive from the environment. According to their findings, published in PLoS Biology, the biophysical mechanism that exists in the brain enables single nerve cells in the cerebral cortex to perform word identification tasks almost perfectly. The research could lead to the upgrading of computer algorithms for faster and more precise speech recognition and to the development of innovative treatments for auditory problems in adults and young people.

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