A new study from the University of Leicester has found why hearing loss is linked to hearing signals failing to get transmitted along the auditory nerve.
Published in Neuroscience, the researchers found how damage to the myelin – a protective coating around specific nerve cells – alters the transmission of sound signals. Action on Hearing Loss funded the three-year study, led by Dr. Martine Hamann, lecturer in Neurosciences at the University's Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology.
Hamann believes that this study gives us a better understanding that could help in the development of a new treatment to prevent or alleviate the symptoms of deafness or tinnitus – the perception of ringing sound in the human ear when no actual sound is present.
"This new study is particularly important because it allows us to understand the pathway from exposure to loud sound leading to the hearing loss. We now have a better idea about the mechanisms of the auditory signals failing to get transmitted accurately from the cochlea to the brain."
The researchers found that targeting the myelin and promoting its repair after exposure to loud sounds can be useful in treating hearing loss.
"I am very excited by this research. The work will help prevention as well as progression in finding appropriate cures for hearing loss and possibly tinnitus developing from hearing loss."