The National Institute on Aging, one of the National Institutes of Health, has awarded more than $8 million to the University of Maryland to develop an innovative approach for addressing hearing loss and communication challenges that affect millions of older people.
The goal of this project is to improve speech understanding in challenging conditions for older listeners, focusing on the use of training programs rather than devices like hearing aids or cochlear implants. These training programs are designed to target the parts of the brain, both auditory and cognitive neural systems, that are critical for successful speech understanding in challenging conditions but that degrade with age.
“Many training programs are designed to help people deal with hearing loss as they get older,” said Professor Sandra Gordon-Salant (Hearing and Speech Sciences), the overall project’s lead investigator. “What we don’t know is how well these training programs work and if they result in a true rewiring of the brain. We’re thrilled to have compiled this dynamite team that will help provide answers to these important questions.”
The five-year, multidisciplinary research project will combine expertise from the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences; the A. James Clark School of Engineering; the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences; and the Center for Advanced Study of Language. All of the team members also are affiliated with the university's cross-disciplinary, multiple-college Brain and Behavior Initiative.