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Cochlear Implants May Restore Hearing.

RTI's speech processor offers hope to profoundly deaf individuals.

A binaural speech processor in the works at Research Triangle Institute (www.rti.org) offers hope to profoundly deaf individuals who have an intact auditory nerve. RTI's system improves the performance of signal-processing devices that restore hearing to people who cannot be helped with the use of traditional hearing aids.

The continuous interleaved system (CIS) processor was developed by Blake Wilson, director of RTI's Center for Auditory Prosthesis Research, and his colleagues at RTI and other institutions. The projects, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md., have set the industry standard for speech processing in auditory prostheses.

The CIS method is offered by all major manufacturers of cochlear implant systems. These systems enable a majority of otherwise deaf users to score 80% or higher in sentence-recognition tests, based on hearing alone. Current R&D focuses on restoring binaural hearing with cochlear implants.

Cochlear implants are electronic devices that consist of a miniature microphone, a speech processor, and an implanted array of electrodes. The devices directly stimulate nerve cells in the inner ear. Using the CIS strategy, the implants supplement lip reading by providing speech-processing hardware to the user. The technique offers researchers information about how the auditory nerve responds to electrical stimulation.

RTI's research focuses on patients with direct access to their implanted electrodes through their skin. Studies indicate that acoustic synthesis hearing aids help to restore some hearing without surgery in patients who have some residual hearing. RTI designed the wearable speech-processing hardware, built at the Univ. of Innsbruck and the Cantonal Hospital of Geneva. RTI also is working on processing strategies for hearing aids using the system developed for cochlear implants.

RTI's speech processor won a 1996 Discover Magazine Award for Technological Innovation. The Discover Awards recognize and promote individuals and organizations that have made a significant impact on the world through technology.

Besides RTI, members of the research team include investigators at Duke Univ. Medical Center in Durham, N.C.; the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary in Boston; and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Mass.

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Title Annotation:Research Triangle Institute is developing a continuous interleaved system processor to aid deaf persons who have an intact auditory nerve
Comment:Cochlear Implants May Restore Hearing.(Research Triangle Institute is developing a continuous interleaved system processor to aid deaf persons who have an intact auditory nerve)
Publication:R & D
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Aug 1, 1999
Words:351
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