Développement de modèles réversibles de la perte auditive et des acouphènes chez l'humain pour comprendre les mécanismes de la plasticité du cerveau dans les troubles de l'audition

 

Marc Schoenwiesner

Université de Montréal

 

Domaine : neurosciences, santé mentale et toxicomanies

Programme chercheurs-boursiers - Junior 2

Concours 2015-2016

Hearing loss is the fastest growing and one of the most prevalent chronic disabilities in Canada, with almost three million Canadians affected. The cost of hearing loss and other hearing disorders to the Canadian economy is likely in the tens of billions of dollars. When hearing is degraded, the brain adapts and changes to cope with the new situation. Knowledge of mechanisms of these brain changes is essential for improving treatments and minimizing incurred costs. Brain changes are usually measured by recording brain activity before and after the change. One of the difficulties in studying brain changes caused by hearing disorders is that we can only measure brain activity after the onset of the hearing problem and it is thus impossible to isolate brain changes specifically caused by the disorder.

My laboratory is pioneering a technique that allows changing a person's hearing and simulating a hearing disorder in a healthy person over several days. This means we can switch the change in hearing on and off, and precisely follow the brain's reaction to the change to isolate brain changes caused by the change in hearing. To do so, we use specially made highly advanced hearing aids that are worn inside the ear canal. These devices can for instance filter out certain frequencies to simulate a hearing loss, or even produce sounds to mimic tinnitus. Because the devices change hearing outside of the artificial laboratory setting and in a person's real day-to-day environment, the research results are directly applicable to real hearing disorders.