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July 19, 2005

New Generation Of Hearing Aids

From: KGO, CA - Jul 19, 2005

July 19 (ABC7) — About 30 million Americans have some form of hearing loss. Many complain about hearing aids saying they produce poor sound quality, making conversations difficult and frustrating. Dr. Dean Edell reports on how hearing scientists are fine tuning devices to help dramatically improve what patients hear. Watch this report Research Summary Talk About This Story

Imagine a world of silence. Jackie Harding knows that world. A cochlear implant helped, but not much.

Jackie Harding, cochlear implant user: "I would say most of the time it does not sound like music as I remember it."

Now audiologists are adding dimension to the flat sound quality in cochlear implants.

Fan-Gang Zeng, Ph.D., hearing scientist: "The research we're conducting will have significant impact on quality of life for cochlear implant users."

Current cochlear implants don't separate one instrument or voice from another.

So researchers added the FM signal you use to tune in your favorite radio station. FM or frequency modulation enhances voice and music recognition.

Implants now capture only the bulk features of sound -- the AM information, or amplitude. Researchers are finding new ways to capture finer sound detail -- the FM information.

Jackie's using this new technology.

Jackie Harding: "I can differentiate between the lower tones and the higher tones better than I did."

Giving more dimension to sound again.

This new technology should be available to patients within the next two years. Better still, it can be applied to new and existing hearing aids and cochlear implants.

These frequency modulated hearing aids enhanced speech recognition by separating and blocking out background noise and increasing tonal recognition. Learn more about this hearing aid research here.

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