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Trials: REGENERATIVE THERAPY hearing loss

Reversing hearing loss with regenerative therapy

MIT spinout Frequency Therapeutics’ drug candidate stimulates the growth of hair cells in the inner ear.Zach Winn | MIT News OfficePublication Date:March 29, 2022 PRESS INQUIRIES

cellular regeneration

Caption:These images show cellular regeneration, in pink, in a preclinical model of sensorineural hearing loss. The control is on the left and the right has been treated.Credits:Image: Hinton AS, Yang-Hood A, Schrader AD, Loose C, Ohlemiller KK, McLean WJ.


Caption:These two images show that one of Frequency’s lead compounds, FREQ-162, drives progenitor cells to turn into oligodendrocytes. The control is on the left and the right has been treated.Credits:Image: Frequency Therapeutics

Frequency's co-founders

Caption:Frequency Therapeutics co-founders Will McLean, PhD recipient at the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology (HST), David Lucchino MBA ’06, Jeff Karp, PhD, HST affiliate faculty and Professor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Chris Loose, PhD ’07. Frequency went public on the Nasdaq on October 3, 2019.Credits:Image: Courtesy of Frequency Therapeutics

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Most of us know someone affected by hearing loss, but we may not fully appreciate the hardships that lack of hearing can bring. Hearing loss can lead to isolation, frustration, and a debilitating ringing in the ears known as tinnitus. It is also closely correlated with dementia.

The biotechnology company Frequency Therapeutics is seeking to reverse hearing loss — not with hearing aids or implants, but with a new kind of regenerative therapy. The company uses small molecules to program progenitor cells, a descendant of stem cells in the inner ear, to create the tiny hair cells that allow us to hear.

Hair cells die off when exposed to loud noises or drugs including certain chemotherapies and antibiotics. Frequency’s drug candidate is designed to be injected into the ear to regenerate these cells within the cochlea. In clinical trials, the company has already improved people’s hearing as measured by tests of speech perception — the ability to understand speech and recognize words.

“Speech perception is the No. 1 goal for improving hearing and the No. 1 need we hear from patients,” says Frequency co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Chris Loose PhD ’07.

In Frequency’s first clinical study, the company saw statistically significant improvements in speech perception in some participants after a single injection, with some responses lasting nearly two years.

The company has dosed more than 200 patients to date and has seen clinically meaningful improvements in speech perception in three separate clinical studies. Another study failed to show improvements in hearing compared to the placebo group, but the company attributes that result to flaws in the design of the trial.

Now Frequency is recruiting for a 124-person trial from which preliminary results should be available early next year.

The company’s founders, including Loose, MIT Institute Professor Robert Langer, CEO David Lucchino MBA ’06, Senior Vice President Will McLean PhD ’14, and Harvard-MIT Health Sciences and Technology affiliate faculty member Jeff Karp, are already gratified to have been able to help people improve their hearing through the trials. They also believe they’re making important contributions toward solving a problem that impacts more than 40 million people in the U.S. and hundreds of millions more around the world.

“Hearing is such an important sense; it connects people to their community and cultivates a sense of identity,” says Karp, who is also a professor of anesthesia at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “I think the potential to restore hearing will have enormous impact on society.”

From the lab to patients

In 2005, Lucchino was an MBA student in the MIT Sloan School of Management and Loose was a PhD candidate in chemical engineering at MIT. Langer introduced the two aspiring entrepreneurs, and they started working on what would become Semprus BioSciences, a medical device company that won the MIT $100K Entrepreneurship Competition and later sold at a deal valued at up to $80 million.

“MIT has such a wonderful environment of people interested in new ventures that come from different backgrounds, so we’re able to assemble teams of people with diverse skills quickly,” Loose says.

Eight years after playing matchmaker for Lucchino and Loose, Langer began working with Karp to study the lining of the human gut, which regenerates itself almost every day.

With MIT postdoc Xiaolei Yin, who is now a scientific advisor to Frequency, the researchers discovered that the same molecules that control the gut’s stem cells are also used by a close descendant of stem cells called progenitor cells. Like stem cells, progenitor cells can turn into more specialized cells in the body.

“Every time we make an advance, we take a step back and ask how this could be even bigger,” Karp says. “It’s easy to be incremental, but how do we take what we learned and make a massive difference?”

Progenitor cells reside in the inner ear and generate hair cells when humans are in utero, but they become dormant before birth and never again turn into more specialized cells such as the hair cells of the cochlea. Humans are born with about 15,000 hair cells in each cochlea. Such cells die over time and never regenerate.

In 2012, the research team was able to use small molecules to turn progenitor cells into thousands of hair cells in the lab. Karp says no one had ever produced such a large number of hair cells before. He still remembers looking at the results while visiting his family, including his father, who wears a hearing aid.

“I looked at them and said, ‘I think we have a breakthrough,’” Karp says. “That’s the first and only time I’ve used that phrase.”

The advance was enough for Langer to play matchmaker again and bring Loose and Lucchino into the fold to start Frequency Therapeutics.

The founders believe their approach — injecting small molecules into the inner ear to turn progenitor cells into more specialized cells — offers advantages over gene therapies, which may rely on extracting a patient’s cells, programming them in a lab, and then delivering them to the right area.

“Tissues throughout your body contain progenitor cells, so we see a huge range of applications,” Loose says. “We believe this is the future of regenerative medicine.”

Advancing regenerative medicine

Frequency’s founders have been thrilled to watch their lab work mature into an impactful drug candidate in clinical trials.

“Some of these people [in the trials] couldn’t hear for 30 years, and for the first time they said they could go into a crowded restaurant and hear what their children were saying,” Langer says. “It’s so meaningful to them. Obviously more needs to be done, but just the fact that you can help a small group of people is really impressive to me.”

Karp believes Frequency’s work will advance researchers’ ability to manipulate progenitor cells and lead to new treatments down the line.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if in 10 or 15 years, because of the resources being put into this space and the incredible science being done, we can get to the point where [reversing hearing loss] would be similar to Lasik surgery, where you’re in and out in an hour or two and you can completely restore your vision,” Karp says. “I think we’ll see the same thing for hearing loss.”

The company is also developing a drug for multiple sclerosis (MS), a disease in which the immune system attacks the myelin in the brain and central nervous system. Progenitor cells already turn into the myelin-producing cells in the brain, but not fast enough to keep up with losses sustained by MS patients. Most MS therapies focus on suppressing the immune system rather than generating myelin.

Early versions of that drug candidate have shown dramatic increases in myelin in mouse studies. The company expects to file an investigational new drug application for MS with the FDA next year.

“When we were conceiving of this project, we meant for it to be a platform that could be broadly applicable to multiple tissues. Now we’re moving into the remyelination work, and to me it’s the tip of the iceberg in terms of what can be done by taking small molecules and controlling local biology,” Karp says.

For now, Karp is already thrilled with Frequency’s progress, which hit home the last time he was in Frequency’s office and met a speaker who shared her experience with hearing loss.

“You always hope your work will have an impact, but it can take a long time for that to happen,” Karp says. “It’s been an incredible experience working with the team to bring this forward. There are already people in the trials whose hearing has been dramatically improved and their lives have been changed. That impacts interactions with family and friends. It’s wonderful to be a part of.”

Hearing aid use can improve health

Older adults with hearing loss may be more sedentary and more likely to experience worsening physical function than those without hearing loss, according to three recent NIA-supported studies. The findings, which were reported in JAMA Network Open and the Journals of Gerontology, Series A, suggest that treating hearing loss may be a way to promote healthy aging among older adults.

Older adult woman walking home from the grocery store with her granddaughter.

Hearing loss is common among older adults. About two-thirds of Americans older than 70 have difficulty hearing. In addition to aging, hearing loss can be caused by exposure to loud noises, certain drugs, disease, and heredity. Treatment options include wearing hearing aids, using assistive-listening devices, or having surgery to implant a small electronic device near the ear.

Measuring patterns of physical activity

A team of investigators at NIA and Johns Hopkins University set out to learn whether hearing loss is associated with certain physical activity patterns among adults between the ages of 60 and 69. Using the results from hearing exams that had been conducted on a subgroup of National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) participants, the team examined data from 221 people with normal hearing, 48 with mild hearing loss, and 22 with moderate to severe hearing loss. All these 291 participants had worn motion-based monitors on their hip for a week to capture how long they were engaged in sedentary behavior, light physical activity, and moderate or vigorous activity.

The team noticed that people with mild to severe hearing loss tended to exercise less than people with normal hearing. The greater the severity of hearing loss, the more likely that the participant was sedentary for longer during the day. Compared to those with no hearing loss, people with hearing loss were found on average to be sedentary for about 34 more minutes per day.

Because physical activity is essential for healthy aging, the findings suggest that the more sedentary lives of those with hearing loss may put them at greater risk of health problems than those with normal hearing.

Assessing physical function over time

A second team, which was led by Johns Hopkins University researchers in collaboration with NIA and others, set out to examine the relationship between hearing loss and physical function over time. The researchers analyzed data collected from participants between the ages of 71 and 94 who enrolled in the NIH-funded Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) study. Of the nearly 3,000 participants, 973 people had normal hearing, 1,170 had mild hearing loss, 692 had moderate loss, and 121 had severe loss.

The researchers analyzed the relationship between hearing loss and physical function. Compared to participants with normal hearing, those with hearing loss were more likely to have worse scores for physical function, balance, and walking speed.

In addition, the researchers monitored the participants during two to three visits over about eight years. Those with hearing loss had a faster rate of physical decline than those with normal hearing. The findings of this study suggest that hearing loss may be associated with worsening physical function over time.

A third team, also led by Johns Hopkins University researchers in collaboration with NIA, used data from 830 adults over age 40 enrolled in the NIA’s Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA). Of the 831 participants, 474 people had normal hearing, 212 had mild hearing loss, and 145 had moderate or severe loss.

As in the ARIC study, those with hearing loss in the BLSA study had worse physical function. Those with moderate or greater hearing loss had a faster decline in physical function over six years than those with normal hearing.

In addition, the third team found that people in the BLSA study who wore hearing aids had better walking endurance than those who did not treat their hearing loss. These findings suggest that it is important to screen for and treat hearing loss to help prevent a decline in physical function.

Future research

It is important to keep in mind that these three studies could detect associations but could not demonstrate that hearing loss causes a decline in physical activity or function. Additional research is needed to investigate a possible mechanism to explain the precise connection between hearing loss and sedentary behavior. Future studies could also examine whether treating hearing loss might contribute to increasing levels of physical activity.

Research to evaluate the treatment of hearing loss on improving health outcomes is already in progress. For example, NIA funded the Aging, Cognition, and Hearing Evaluation in Elders (ACHIEVE) clinical trial to examine the potential benefits of hearing rehabilitation. ACHIEVE, led by investigators at Johns Hopkins University, is nested in the ARIC study mentioned above. ACHIEVE will assess not only whether physical function can be improved by treating hearing loss, but also cognition, social functioning, and quality of life.

This research was supported in part by NIA’s Intramural Research Program and by NIA grants K23AG065443, R01AG061786, and K01AG054693.


Biden Orders OTC Hearing Aids Competition review

 The White House Briefing Room this week said a new executive order aimed at promoting competition in the American economy was issued. In the order, the President directs HHS “to consider issuing proposed rules” for over-the-counter (OTC) hearing aids “within 120 days”.

OTC hearing aids were among 72 initiatives, the executive order includes mandates to lower prescription drug prices, ban and limit non-compete agreements and occupational licensing requirements, ban excessive early termination fees for internet service, and make it easier to switch banks. .

The Biden administration argues that “fewer large players have controlled more of the market” in areas like “prescription drugs, hearing aids, and internet service”. The administration also predicts that OTC hearing aids will “save Americans with hearing loss thousands of dollars by allowing hearing aids to be sold over the counter at drug stores”.

Regulating OTC hearing aids

Surprisingly, many DTC hearing aids are registered with the FDA under product classifications that are intended for medical-model hearing aids. If the FDA forces DTC sellers to reclassify their products as OTC (once the new class exists) and requires product clearance (510k), this would mean that many of the FDA-registered hearing aids being sold DTC today may be pulled from the market temporarily.

This would ultimately be a good thing for consumers. It would mean that consumers would receive an enhanced level of protection from the FDA, as manufacturers would be required to prove the effectiveness and safety of any devices being sold directly to consumers. Without audiologists vetting the products by fitting them on their patients, the FDA has a higher level of responsibility to vet the products before allowing them to be sold on the open market. (My personal opinion)

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) recently published its official Spring 2021 Unified Agenda, which included tentative plans for the FDA to address OTC hearing aids in 2021. This isn’t the first time the FDA has planned to work on the rules—this is the fifth time the rulemaking session has been scheduled—but today’s announcement does seem to indicate that there is a higher likelihood of the session actually occurring.

Kate Carr, Hearing Industries Association (HIA) President, said “once the draft is released, we anticipate a public comment period, followed by further FDA review. It could take up to nine months or more for the final regulation to be released.” She also shared the following graphic, which helps illustrate FDA’s rulemaking timeline:

FDA Rulemaking Timeline

FDA Rulemaking Timeline, courtesy HIA

Hearing aid stocks dropped on the news

The share price for the largest medical-model hearing aid manufacturer on the planet, Sonova, was down sharply (~7%) following the announcement. Other large players were down too: Demant A/S was down ~9%, and GN was down ~6%. Eargo’s stock was also down.

hear more clearly in background noise.


The  Noopl  helps people hear more clearly in background noise. The $199 device clips onto the bottom of an iPhone and utilizes a three-mic array and beam steering to help focus in on speech more clearly. By using the head tracking technology built into the Airpods Pro, it is designed to detect which direction the user is facing to help better reduce background noise and enhance speech.

Noopl: Background 

Time Trine, PhD, Noopl CEO

Dr. Trine is a hearing industry veteran. Prior to joining Noopl, he spent 19 years with Starkey Hearing Technologies in Minnesota before moving to San Francisco in 2017 to be Chief Technology Officer for direct-to-consumer hearing aid maker, Eargo. He holds a Ph.D. in hearing science from the University of Minnesota, an M.B.A. from Northwestern University, a master’s degree in Audiology from Vanderbilt University, and his bachelor’s degree in communication disorders from California State University, Northridge.

According to Dr. Trine, the microphone array processing technology in the Noopl 1.0 accessory was developed over 5 years through a collaboration between the renowned National Acoustic Laboratories (NAL), the HEARing CRC, University of Melbourne and Noopl, Inc. 

The company has also recently partnered with Chatable to continuously improve its speech processing abilities. Chatable helps users focus on in-person conversation by “providing clear voice without noise, using an AI-based approach to noise reduction by leveraging real-time neural speech synthesis”. Combining the Noopl device and iOS app with Chatable technology aims to deliver an even better product for users to hear through the noise.

Who Can Benefit from Noopl?

The Noopl device is intended to be used for situational hearing challenges – specifically, trouble hearing clearly in background noise. 

While trouble hearing in background noise often the biggest complaint among people with hearing loss in general, there are also millions of individuals with so-called ‘hidden hearing loss‘, who could potentially benefit from this type of technology. 

First Impressions

Our test device arrived in nice clean packaging, which included: Noopl 1.0 device, multiple couplers, carrying case and an easy to follow Setup Guide.

Noopl unboxing

The device, which is compatible with iPhone 7 and newer models, is very lightweight and plugs directly into the bottom of the iPhone through the lightning port. 

One of the critical parts of setting up the Noopl device on the iPhone is to ensure you have the appropriate coupler – which will vary based on the model of iPhone and whether or not it has a cover. Fit incorrectly, performance will suffer and could result in feedback.

noopl with coupler

Downloading and setting up the iOS app with the AirPods Pro was found to be very simple and straightforward. 

The app is easy and intuitive to use. Adjustable volume and noise reduction levels allow the user to adjust and customize the incoming sound.

The most impressive feature, however, is the steerable beamformer. 

How Noopl works with AirPods Pro

Head steering information from the AirPods Pro® is passed through the iPhone to the Noopl 1.0 accessory to steer the directional array based on the direction the user is looking every few milliseconds–which is displayed visually as the user turns their head. In addition, the app is designed to automatically recognize whether the user is holding the phone or has their phone on a table and optimizes the directional performance accordingly.

The device can also be manually controlled to alter the focus of the microphone towards whichever speaker or sound source you want to hear. 

We found this feature to work as advertised, both in the automatic and manual modes, using the AirPods Pro.

Does Noopl Only Work with AirPods Pro? What About Hearing Aids?

“We chose AirPods Pro because they currently have the lowest latency Bluetooth audio connection.  We will be qualifying other TWS earbuds but currently the only earbuds that currently support a low-latency connection are the AirPods and the PowerBeats Pro,” said Dr. Trine. “I anticipate that this will change rapidly as both cell phone and earbud manufacturers begin to support the Bluetooth 5.2 standard.”  

We asked Dr. Trine if Noopl plans to offer compatibility with wireless hearing aids and cochlear implants in the future.“We already work with all MFi hearing aids and cochlear implants!  In fact, some of our most delighted customers are cochlear implant users who for the first time in their lives are able to communicate in a noisy environment.  It’s amazing to hear their stories.  The key to success for both hearing and and cochlear implants users is to ensure that their ear-level microphone input is muted when using Noopl.  Doing so ensures that the signal to noise ratio advantage offered by the Noopl processing is maintained.”

The Noopl device also supports other wireless earbuds, as well as MFi hearing aids and cochlear implants. However, the automatic steering feature is currently only available on the AirPods Pro.  


Noopl offers users a simple, affordable solution to address a common problem – hearing clearly in background noise

While it’s currently limited to iPhone users, the device holds a great deal of promise for millions people with hearing loss and those who experience situational hearing problems in background noise. 

The company tells HHTM that it expects to begin supporting Android phones by winter 2021.  For more details visit Noopl’s website to learn more. 

hearables, new technology

A conversation with Jacob Skinner, Ph.D., CEO, Thrive Wearables

Ear Sound technology

Hearables, in-ear devices that use sensors to monitor health, are on the brink of becoming the next revolutionary technology. While in-ear devices have been around for decades in various iterations (used primarily for transmitting sound), the application of this technology in the medical field is a relatively new area to explore. Jacob Skinner, CEO of U.K.-based wearable technology design and development consultants Thrive Wearables, discusses its possibilities.

Why Are Hearables Becoming More Important As A Technology Now?

Skinner: In recent times, sensor technology has shrunk significantly so that all kinds of capabilities can be added to in-ear devices, creating a subcategory of wearable technology that we call hearables.  Additionally, most of us carry a supercomputer around in our pockets, which can process data sent to, and received from, in-ear sensors.

JacobTechnology for transferring information is getting better, too. Early Bluetooth headphones traded audio quality for convenience, but today’s wireless earphones are good enough for all but the most dedicated audiophile. Last year, a new standard, Bluetooth LE Audio, was announced that can support hearing aids, streaming to multiple devices, and the Low Complexity Communications Codec (LC3, which transmits at lower bit rates, meaning that the device can use less power and can be less bulky).

In addition, almost all of us use earphones of some kind, whether they are wireless, Bluetooth-connected, in-ear buds, or wired headphones that go over the ear. We’re all pretty comfortable with the technology, which helps with patient adherence of this burgeoning field. So, the reason hearables are growing now is a combination of a form factor that we’re all used to and improvements in technology that enable us to make earphones do more than ever. It’s common for wireless earbuds to have a microphone, for example, and a sensor that stops playback when an earphone is removed from the ear. But we are now seeing them become health and fitness devices.

What Can Hearables Bring To The Health And Wellness Space?

Skinner: Some of this technology will simply offer an improved listening experience, based on individual circumstances, and some products are merging traditional ear device uses (listening to music or phone calls) with medical uses. EVEN’s headphones and Nuheara’s IQbuds, for example, both adapt their output to boost frequencies the listener doesn’t hear so well. Everyone’s hearing is slightly different, so compensating for personal limitations or age-related hearing loss can help.

Other technologies use earphones to monitor activity, stress, and even the brain. Sensors can be used for photoplethysmography (PPG), which is the use of light to detect changes in blood volume. That can tell you things like oxygen saturation (SpO2), blood pressure, and pulse rate. Blood pressure is a good measure of overall health, while SpO2 can monitor lung conditions, sleep apnea, and patients with cardiac conditions, among other things. Analyzing changes in this data could provide early indication of heart or blood pressure problems, as well as things like stress or drowsiness.

We can measure heart rate variability, too, which is the time difference between heart beats. A heartbeat of 60 beats per minute is not literally one beat every second. The gaps between beats will vary and the greater the variability, the better condition you are in. Using an in-ear sensor to measure this can help track overall fitness or recovery from a heart procedure.

Another way to monitor heart activity is with electrocardiography (ECG) sensors, which track electrical impulses, while electrodermal activity (EDA) sensors can be used to analyze breathing patterns. Electroencephalography (EEG) sensors, like those in the Kokoon sleep headphones, use electrical signals to monitor brain activity; Kokoon uses the information from its sensors to play white noise for those with trouble sleeping (Kokoon recently won a Red Dot Award in the Product Design category from Red Dot GmbH & Co. KG). Brain monitoring is developing rapidly and could be used to monitor stress, epilepsy, or even complex mental illnesses.

These are far from the only options. Temperature, motion, and other metrics can all be gathered from hearables. Electrical signals can track eye movement, which offers a way to monitor attention and alertness. Measuring changes in the shape of a user’s ear canal can identify facial expressions, which could become a means for controlling these devices or play a role in mood tracking.

What Can We Learn From That Data?

Skinner: Hearables can be useful for telling us what is happening in the body right now. They could tell you whether you are within the correct heart rate range for your exercise plan, for instance, and use an audible signal to tell you to speed up or slow down.

But trend data can be even more useful. Once a system begins to understand what is normal for your body, it can use anomalies to detect potential health problems. Combining several measures, along with things like voice recognition and head movement, could be a powerful indicator of overall health and well-being. Abnormal data could trigger anything from recommended deep breathing exercises for stress relief to scheduling an appointment with a clinician based on emerging cardiac symptoms.

When many people use these devices, their data can be analyzed in aggregate – with appropriate privacy controls. That would allow artificial intelligence and analytics to look for patterns and draw conclusions beyond those that can be derived from individual data. We might identify new warning signs of heart disease, for example, based on data collected from millions of people before they showed any symptoms.

Many of these applications are some time away from being reliable and widely used, but the pace of innovation is fast and increasing. We are just a few years away from widespread consumer use of hearables for health monitoring, but specific, niche medical uses are already happening.

Why Are Hearables Ideal For Data Collection Rather Than Wrist-Based Wearables, And What Are The Technological Challenges?

Skinner: Wearable tech for health and wellness has so far focused on wrist-based devices. However, signals from the ear are as much as 100-times clearer than those from the wrist. The inside of the ear is dark, closer to the body’s core, and the arteries are nearer the surface of the skin, which makes heart rate monitoring easier.

On the wrist, in contrast, sensors must work around muscles and tendons. During exercise, people tend to move their wrists a lot, while their heads stay relatively stable. Wrist-based monitors shine a light into the skin to detect blood flow, but if the device isn’t fitted snugly to the wrist, light can get in and reduce the effectiveness of the sensor. And unlike the inner ear, the wrist gets sweaty, which can make it hard for sensors to capture a good signal, resulting in variable quality insights.

The ear is also a good location for monitoring signals from the brain and eyes, and is less obtrusive than brain-computer interfaces that must be worn on the head. Speech recognition is easily handled by a microphone on an earpiece, and head movement is easily tracked, too.

The challenge with a device that you wear in your ear is that it has to be small and light, which obviously restricts how many sensors you can pack in. The sensors have to be small and there has to be room for a battery to power them. For a consumer device, you need to fit in speakers and a microphone, too. It’s a design challenge to make something that is comfortable to wear, with a practical battery life and the features that provide value. However, since the pioneering work of the German startup Bragi, a lot of investment has gone into creating new technologies that are specifically designed to work at ultra-low power and in extremely constrained form factors. There is also historical work in the hearing aid space, and this level of advancement has meant that hearable technology is able to move at significant pace. With this backdrop, and due to the consumer pull and market validation of AirPods, new sensors and advanced technologies are finding their way into our ear-worn wearables. These factors somewhat mitigate the challenges we face in product development.

What Does The Future Look Like?

Skinner: The industry will see a boom in hearables. The COVID-19 pandemic slowed things down somewhat. Hearable shipments grew by 258 percent in 2019 but only 37 percent last year, mostly because of supply chain disruption during lockdown. However, we will see growth increase again because of the amount of innovation in the sector. The market is still expected to be worth $146 billion by the end of the decade.

Consumer devices are going to continue to add more features, with many of them becoming alternatives to hearing aids for the hundreds of millions of people with disabling hearing loss. Health and fitness remains a natural area for growth, too, because so many people like to wear earphones while exercising and they are naturally interested in their overall wellness. We are also likely to see these devices integrate with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) use cases — particularly in creating “surround sound” effects and greater personal assistant capabilities.

More specialized use cases have fascinating possibilities. We can monitor recovery from heart procedures more effectively than ever before, for example, and we are just beginning to look into the possibilities for mental health.

This year is an especially pivotal year for ear-based technology. Through my work at Thrive, I am seeing innovators in this space, and the products coming along are very exciting. It’s clear that hearables represent a fantastic opportunity to measure high-fidelity signals and turn these into a new generation of ultra-sensitive and accurate health technologies.

Sound affects embryo development

Embryos of many species use sound to prepare for the outside world

Date: May 26, 2021Source: Cell Press Summary :It’s well known that reptiles depend on temperature cues while in the egg to determine a hatchling’s sex. Now, researchers say that embryos of many different animal species also rely on acoustic signals in important ways. They call this phenomenon ‘acoustic developmental programming. ‘Share:   

It’s well known that reptiles depend on temperature cues while in the egg to determine a hatchling’s sex. Now, researchers writing in the journal Trends in Ecology & Evolution on May 26 say that embryos of many different animal species also rely on acoustic signals in important ways. They call this phenomenon “acoustic developmental programming.”

“Acoustic developmental programming occurs when a sound informs embryos about the environment they’ll encounter postnatally and changes their development to better suit this environment,” said Mylene Mariette (@MyleneMariette) of Deakin University in Australia.

Because this is a newly discovered phenomenon, the evidence is just beginning to accumulate. And, yet, it seems to be rather widespread among animals.

“We have found evidence of this happening in birds, where parental calls can warn embryos about heatwaves or predators,” Mariette says. “Before that, there was also evidence that cricket nymphs use male songs to predict the level of competition for mates. However, what is most striking from the evidence we’ve gathered is how common it is for embryos across species to rely on sound information.

“For example,” she adds, “across all animal groups that lay eggs, such as insects, frogs, reptiles and birds, embryos use sound or vibration to know when the best time is to hatch. This suggests that acoustic developmental programming is likely to happen in many animal species and for a whole range of conditions. But, until recently, we did not know it was happening.”

Mariette got interested in acoustic developmental programming while studying how zebra finch parents communicate with each other through calls to coordinate parental care duties. “I noticed that when a parent was alone incubating, it would sometimes produce a strange high-pitched call,” she says.

She wondered if those calls had further implications for the developing embryos. To find out, she captured many audio recordings in nests and played them to eggs incubated artificially in the lab. It turned out that the finch parents only produced that particular call when it was very hot out. Upon hearing it from inside the egg, nestlings adjusted their development to prepare for the heat.

“I became very curious about how just hearing a sound before hatching could alter development,” Mariette says.

She started searching for evidence in the literature of embryos using sound in other animals. She also dug into the neurobiology to try and understand how it could happen. So far, it’s not clear exactly how it works, but the new report identifies some likely mechanisms.

“In crickets, when developing nymphs hear many sexy songs, female develop quickly to make the most of the opportunity, whereas males delay metamorphosis to grow bigger and invest more in reproduction,” Mariette says. “In zebra finches, embryos exposed to parental heat calls grow less to reduce the physiological damage of heat exposure, which then allows them to produce more babies at adulthood. But embryos cannot decide to change their development, it just happens.

“This is because sound directly impacts behavior and physiology, without any conscious processing,” she continues. “This is why, for example, music triggers spontaneous emotions of sadness or happiness, without us having to remember which movie that soundtrack came from, or in fact without us even noticing our reaction to the music. It seems to occur on its own, because there are direct connections in the brain between the auditory pathway and the areas that control emotion, reflex learning, and hormone production, so the higher cortical areas do not need to decode the information. Sound experienced early in life could trigger the same spontaneous reactions and, in fact, have long-lasting effects, because this is when the brain is developing, and consolidating connections. For the same reason, the downstream effects on physiology and then morphology can persist for life.”

The bottom line for now is that sound has a much more profound impact on development than had been realized. Mariette suggest that it may be important to preserve natural soundscapes that may be crucial for animal adaptation, particularly in fast-changing environments.

Mariette’s lab continues to study the physiological traits in zebra finches that may be affected by heat-calls. “It is quite amazing that sound alone can prepare babies for heat, particularly given the alarming rate of climate change,” she says.

This work was supported by ARC grants. Make a difference: sponsored opportunity

Story Source:

Materials provided by Cell PressNote: Content may be edited for style and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. Mylene M. Mariette, David F. Clayton, Katherine L. Buchanan. Acoustic developmental programming: a mechanistic and evolutionary frameworkTrends in Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1016/j.tree.2021.04.007

some are more likely to get hearing loss

New study finds genetic predisposition for noise-induced hearing loss

by University of Southern California

Keck Medicine of USC-led study finds genetic predisposition for noise-induced hearing loss
Immunostained mouse auditory nerve synapses after noise exposure. A team led by Keck Medicine of USC neuroscientists first to publish genome-wide association study for noise-induced hearing loss in mice. Credit: Rick A. Friedman Lab

In a new genome-wide association study, an international team led by Keck Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC) neuroscientists has found evidence that some people may be more genetically susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss than others.

Noise-induced hearing loss is one of the most common work-related illnesses in the United States, according to the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. At especially high risk are troops in the Armed Forces. In 2013, the Department of Veterans Affairs reported hearing loss as one of the most common disabilities among veterans receiving disability compensation.

Those at higher, genetic risk for hearing loss may decide to take additional precautionary measures to protect their hearing prior to hazardous noise exposure, study authors say.

“Understanding the biological processes that affect susceptibility to hearing loss due to loud noise exposure is an important factor in reducing the risk,” said Keck Medicine of USC otologist Rick A. Friedman, M.D., Ph.D., professor of otolaryngology and neurosurgery at the Keck School of Medicine of USC and senior author of the study. “We have made great advances in hearing restoration, but nothing can compare to protecting the hearing you have and preventing hearing loss in the first place.”

The study, “Genome-wide association study identifies Nox3 as a critical gene for susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss,” appears in the April 16 edition of PLOS Genetics, a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

While some gene association studies on noise-induced hearing loss in people have been conducted in the past, all were very small and their results un-replicated. Genome-wide association studies, or GWAS, search the entire genome for common genetic variants to see if any of those variants are associated with a trait. Mouse GWAS have lead to the discovery of hundreds of genes involved in complex traits that have immediate relevance to people.

In the USC study, conducted at the Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute, Friedman’s team identified the Nox3 gene, which is almost exclusively expressed in the inner ear, as a key gene for susceptibility to noise-induced hearing loss. Using 64 of the 100 strains of mice in the Hybrid Mouse Diversity Panel, the team was able to increase the statistical power of its investigation, leading to the first published GWAS for noise-induced hearing loss in mice.

More research is necessary before clinical recommendations can be made.

Explore furtherResearchers gain insight into protective mechanisms for hearing loss

hearing loss in women may be preventable

Women with osteoporosis and low bone density have higher risk of hearing loss

May 25 2021

Hearing loss is the third most common chronic health condition in the United States. Previous studies of people with hearing loss have uncovered higher prevalence of osteoporosis — a disease in which the bones become weak and brittle — and low bone density (LBD).

But research on whether these conditions may influence risk of hearing loss over time is scarce. It is also unknown whether hearing loss can be avoided by taking bisphosphonates, the primary medication used to prevent fractures in people with reduced bone density. As part of the Conservation of Hearing Study (CHEARS), researchers from Brigham and Women’s Hospital analyzed data from nearly 144,000 women who were followed for up to 34 years.

They found that risk of subsequent moderate or worse hearing loss was up to 40 percent higher in study participants with osteoporosis or LBD. The study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, also found that bisphosphonates did not alter risk of hearing loss.

Adult onset hearing loss is typically irreversible; therefore, CHEARS focuses on identifying potentially modifiable risk factors that may contribute to hearing loss. We were inspired by a recent study that found that bisphosphonates may help prevent noise-induced hearing damage in mice. We wanted to investigate whether bisphosphonates alter risk of hearing loss in adults, in addition to whether there is a longitudinal association between osteoporosis or LBD and risk of subsequent hearing loss.”

Sharon Curhan, MD, ScM, Study Leader, Channing Division of Network Medicine, Brigham and Women’s Hospital

For their analysis, the researchers used data from the decades-long Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) and NHS II, two large ongoing prospective cohorts of female registered nurses, established in 1976 and 1989, respectively. The researchers examined hearing loss that was moderate or worse in severity, as self-reported by participants on questionnaires completed every two years. Additionally, they used the CHEARS Audiometry Assessment Arm to incorporate data on participants’ audiometric thresholds (a measure of hearing sensitivity based on the loudness of sound).

In both the NHS and NHS II cohorts, the researchers found that the risk of hearing loss was higher in women with osteoporosis or LBD, and that taking bisphosphonates did not moderate the elevated risk. More research is required to understand whether the type, dose or timing of bisphosphonate use might influence its impact.

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The researchers found that a history of vertebral fracture was associated with up to a 40 percent higher risk of hearing loss, but the same did not hold true for hip fractures, the two most common osteoporosis-related fractures. “The differing findings between these skeletal sites may reflect differences in the composition and metabolism of the bones in the spine and in the hip,” Curhan said. “These findings could provide new insight into the changes in the bone that surrounds the middle and inner ear that may contribute to hearing loss.”

While the underlying mechanisms by which osteoporosis and LBD may contribute to aging-related hearing loss remain unclear, the researchers suggest that abnormal bone remodeling and changes in the pathways involved in maintaining bone homeostasis may influence the integrity of the bone that protects the nerves and structures involved in hearing or alter ion and fluid metabolism in the cochlea, the main structure involved in hearing.

Advantages of using data from these well-characterized cohorts include the large study population, extensive array of detailed information, impressive follow-up rates and reliable information on health-related outcomes, as the participants are trained health care providers. However, the researchers note that their study is limited in its generalizability, as participants are predominantly white, with similar educational achievements and socio-economic statuses. Curhan points out that additional studies that examine these associations in men and non-white women would be informative.

Additionally, the investigators plan to examine in the future whether calcium and vitamin D intake are associated with hearing loss, as they have been shown to help prevent osteoporosis. Previously, the researchers found that eating a healthy diet, staying physically active, not smoking, and maintaining a healthy weight all help reduce the risk of hearing loss.

“Osteoporosis and low bone density may be important contributors to aging-related hearing loss,” Curhan said. “Building lifelong healthy diet and lifestyle habits could provide important benefits for protecting bone and hearing health in the future.”Source:

Brigham and Women’s HospitalJournal reference:

Curhan, S. G., et al. (2021) Osteoporosis, bisphosphonate use, and risk of moderate or worse hearing loss in women. Journal of American Geriatrics

zoom fatigue worse for women

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Zoom fatigue worse for women, Stanford study finds

In the first large-scale study examining the full extent of Zoom fatigue, Stanford researchers find that women report feeling more exhausted than men following video calls – and the “self-view” display may be to blame.


With the pandemic forcing many Americans to retreat into their homes, video calls have taken over people’s work and personal lives. Now, new Stanford research reveals how the shift from in-person meetings to virtual ones has taken its toll, particularly among women.

In the first large-scale study examining the full extent of Zoom fatigue, Stanford researchers find that women report feeling more exhausted than men following video calls. (Image credit: Getty Images)

The feeling of exhaustion that comes from a day of back-to-back online meetings – also known as “Zoom fatigue” – is greater for women, according to the researchers’ data. They found that overall, one in seven women – 13.8 percent – compared with one in 20 men – 5.5 percent – reported feeling “very” to “extremely” fatigued after Zoom calls.

These new findings build on a paper the Stanford researchers recently published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior that explored why people might feel exhausted following video conference calls. Now, they have the data to show who is feeling the strain. For their follow-up study, the researchers surveyed 10,322 participants in February and March using their “Zoom Exhaustion and Fatigue Scale” to better understand the individual differences of burnout from the extended use of video conferencing technologies during the past year.

These findings add to a growing understanding of how the COVID-19 pandemic is disproportionately affecting certain groups of people, said Jeffrey Hancock, professor of communication in the School of Humanities and Sciences and co-author of the new study released April 13 on the Social Science Research Network.

“We’ve all heard stories about Zoom fatigue and anecdotal evidence that women are affected more, but now we have quantitative data that Zoom fatigue is worse for women, and more importantly, we know why,” Hancock said.

The researchers found that what contributed most to the feeling of exhaustion among women was an increase in what social psychologists describe as “self-focused attention” triggered by the self-view in video conferencing.

“Self-focused attention refers to a heightened awareness of how one comes across or how one appears in a conversation,” Hancock said.

To measure this effect, the researchers asked participants questions such as: “During a video conference, how concerned do you feel about seeing yourself?” and “During a video conference, how distracting is it to see yourself?”

The researchers found that women answered these questions at higher rates than men – a finding that is consistent with existing research that shows women have a greater propensity to self-focus than men when they are in the presence of a mirror. That prolonged self-focus can produce negative emotions, or what the researchers call “mirror anxiety,” Hancock explained.

A simple solution is to change the default display settings and turn off “self-view.”

Also contributing to an increase in Zoom fatigue among women were feelings of being physically trapped by the need to stay centered in the camera’s field of view. Unlike face-to-face meetings where people can move around, pace or stretch, video conferencing limits movement. Another way to address this is to move farther away from the screen or to turn off one’s video during parts of calls.

The researchers found that while women have the same number of meetings per day as men, their meetings tend to run longer. Women were also less likely to take breaks between meetings – all factors that contributed to increased weariness.

The pattern of women being more burned out from videoconferencing than men appears to be robust. “We see this gender effect across multiple different studies, and even after taking into account other factors. It’s a really consistent finding,” Hancock said.

Other differences – personality, age and race

Action items organizations can make to reduce Zoom fatigue:

  1. Implement no-video meeting days. Have a day each week that does not require any video meetings.
  2. If video is not necessary for a meeting, make “video off” mandatory for that meeting. People should think hard about whether video is necessary for a meeting, and if it is not, make video-off mandatory so that no one feels the pressure to keep it on.
  3. Find out if your employees or colleagues are fatigued. Have your employees take the Stanford ZEF scale to measure their fatigue and find solutions to help reduce it.

Also associated with Zoom fatigue was personality types: Extraverts reported lower levels of exhaustion following video conferencing than introverts. Calm, emotionally stable people also reported less exhaustion than more anxious individuals, who may also have been affected by the self-attention triggered by the digital mirror.

Age mattered as well: Younger individuals reported higher levels of tiredness compared with older survey participants.

Another factor was race: The researchers’ preliminary data shows that people of color reported a slightly higher level of Zoom fatigue compared with white participants. The researchers are exploring what contributed to this finding in a follow-up project with scholars, including their Stanford colleagues, who study race and media.

“We are working to understand what might be causing this race effect and develop solutions to address it,” Hancock said.

Next steps

While individuals can make changes to their own work habits to avoid burnout, the researchers urge organizations to rethink how they manage their remote workforce. For example, companies could organize more meetings that are video-free, offer guidelines on how frequent and long meetings should be and specify more breaks between meetings.

The paper’s contributors include joint first authors Geraldine Fauville, who was a postdoctoral scholar in the lab when she conducted the research and is now a researcher at the University of Gothenburg, Sweden, and Mufan Luo, a doctoral student in the Stanford Social Media Lab. Anna Carolina Muller Queiroz, a visiting research student at the Virtual Human Interaction Lab, also contributed along with senior authors Jeffrey Hancock, the Harry and Norman Chandler Professor of Communication, and Jeremy Bailenson, the Thomas More Storke Professor of Communication.

Media Contacts

Melissa De Witte, Stanford News Service:

improve your understanding

How Music Training Can Improve Life with Hearing Loss

Julia Métraux

Health Writer

24 May 2021

Adjusting to life with hearing loss can be difficult, and some people need support beyond wearing hearing aids or cochlear implants to truly thrive. If you find yourself exhausted by concentrating while wearing hearing devices, auditory training could be a good boost. Training that involves music can be a fun and engaging option.

First, let’s take a quick dive into auditory training, sometimes called “aural rehabilitation.” The goal of auditory training is to strengthen the brain’s auditory processing capability. According to Anne D. Olson, Ph.D., it “can be defined as a purposeful and systematic presentation of sounds such that listeners are taught to make perceptual distinctions about those sounds.” This can improve listening accuracy.

When patients with suspected hearing loss enter her clinic, audiologist Jill Davis, AuD performs a cognitive screener as well as one with a background noise. “Seventy percent of patients performed well with just the hearing aids alone. For that thirty percent that need a little extra help, that’s when auditory training comes into play,” Davis told Hearing Tracker.

The role of music in auditory training

There are different types of auditory training, but an interesting avenue—and one that Davis implements at her practice—is music training. This involves learning to play an instrument and differs from music therapy, which is using music as a therapeutic tool to treat physical, emotional and/or cognitive symptoms.

When Davis begins working with people who may benefit from auditory training due to concentration issues, she asks if they play an instrument. “Research shows that playing music can help build up their abilities. Surprisingly, many answer that ‘I’ve always wanted to play an instrument,’ or ‘I have a piano that’s collecting dust that I’ve never played,’” Davis said. Music training may be even more beneficial for people who do not have a background in music.

How music training helps

Why is music such a good practice for those with hearing loss? In both researching the benefits of music training and seeing the results in her patients, Davis found that music training can help people who struggle with background noise. “What I found was that if you play an instrument, your brain ‘works’ faster, you hear better in background noise, and daily life is just easier,” Davis said. “So I wanted to use that to help people with hearing loss train their brains to hear better and [filter out] background noise.”

And this isn’t just Davis’ opinion. A systematic review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that music training offers an array of benefits to people with hearing loss. These include helping people with hearing loss tell sounds apart based on pitch, duration, and timbre. Music training can also enhance working memory in people with hearing loss, which is the “ability to temporally maintain and manipulate information,” which may ease the experience of listening exhaustion.

Who benefits from music training?

Music training can help those who have congenital or acquired hearing loss, according to Céline Hidalgo, PhD, one of the authors of the review published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine. She told Hearing Tracker, “For congenital deafness, this allows the development of general cognitive functions that will allow harmonious development of language and communication” through cochlear implants.

Music training, according to Davis, can be helpful to people with a range of hearing loss, and it can be useful for people who may have put off auditory training. “As long as they can hear the music that we are playing, no matter what their level of discrimination or the significance of their loss, we see that we can improve at any point in the journey,” Davis said.

How to participate in music training

For people who participate in music training, “most of the time” wearing hearing aids helps “but a part can also be carried out without the aids or the implant during the work of the rhythm, which can essentially be perceived at the tactile level,” Hidalgo said.

People who participate in music training may see changes after only three months, according to Davis, and the sessions don’t need to always be in person. “I was trying to find ways that my patients could play without having to do in-person instructions,” she explained. “I found and partnered with a piano-playing app” to allow for a virtual component to the program.

If you want to participate in music training yourself or encourage a family member to do so, you can find an instructor or a class online. Learn-to-play apps are a good option, too. Whatever route you choose, do speak to a hearing health professional to see if your program would qualify as auditory training. That way, you’ll ensure that the joy of music is also helping to improve your skills.

Julia Métraux

Health Writer

Julia Métraux is a health and culture writer with hearing loss and a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Check out her portfolio.Connect →

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NewHeadphone Accommodations

Customize your headphones to your hearing needs.

Whether you’re listening to music, watching a movie, or talking to a loved one, Headphone Accommodations help you customize your audio experience to make the world sound crisp and clear. Amplify soft sounds and adjust certain sound frequencies based on your individual hearing needs. If you already have your own audiogram, you can add it to your settings. If not, you’ll walk through a series of listening tests that allow you to set up as many as nine unique profiles based on your personal sound preferences.2

Available on:

iPhone, iPad, AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, AirPods, EarPods, Beats

  1. Hands-free phone calls are coming to Made For iPhone (MFI) hearing aid users
  2. Direct input of audiograms into Apple Health
  3. Background Sounds adds masking sounds for tinnitus sufferers

Children lose hearing

 According to the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), 2 to 3 out of every 1,000 children in the United States are born with a detectable level of hearing loss in one or both ears. Furthermore, an estimated 1 in 5 American teens experiences some degree of hearing loss. Loud music with EAR BUDS is a major cause.

Bose Sound Control™ Hearing Aids introduced

, Bose has finally launched its new self-fitting hearing aids—Bose SoundControl™. The new hearing aids look a lot like traditional medical-grade hearing aids, but promise a radically different do-it-yourself experience that allows you to “tune it yourself”, “skip the appointments” and “pay (much) less”. The new hearing aids come with 90-day risk-free trial, dedicated product support, and will be available to purchase on May 18 in select states for $849.95 for 2 aids

SoundControl™ Hearing Aids, Carrying Case, Open eartips in sizes 1, 2, 3, Closed eartips in sizes 1, 2, 3, Cable sizing tool, Batteries size 312 zinc-air, Hearing aid brush

What’s in the box

  • SoundControl™ Hearing Aids
  • Open eartips in sizes 1, 2, 3 (tip 2 is installed on the product)
  • Closed eartips in sizes 1, 2, 3
  • Batteries, size 312 zinc-air (8)
  • Carrying case
  • Hearing aid brush
  • Cable sizing tool
  • Quick start guide
  • Instructions for use

Tune it yourself

Unlike traditional hearing aids, Bose’s new SoundControl™ hearing aids are designed to be adjusted by the user. Citing a study conducted with researchers at Northwestern University, Bose touts “clinically proven results” using its proprietary CustomTune™ technology. Based on the research, Bose makes three primary claims:

  • CustomTune™ provides audiologist-quality customization.
  • Users were happier with sound quality compared to prescription-fit users.
  • On average, there was no difference in hearing-in-noise performance or hearing benefit between CustomTune™ and prescription-fit.

The Bose Hear App (on Android or iOS) gives the users two primary controls:

  1. World volume – This control is the primary control for amplification. It adjusts the gain, compression, and output limiting across 12 bands to approximate the settings that would be required to professionally-fit 36 common audiograms.
  2. Treble – The treble control adjusts “spectral tilt” by applying “additional adjustment to the gain” across 12 bands.

In the research cited by Bose, most users found themselves in the ballpark of a good hearing aid fitting. This was established by running ear canal measurements to see how close research participants self-selected amplification output was to the output of a perfectly-fit hearing aid.

for more information LINK

musicians hearing loss

Musicians crisis due to hearing loss

Oscar-nominated film Sound of Metal depicts a drummer battling hearing loss. As rock stars like Myles Kennedy explain, it’s a debilitating and worryingly widespread problem

Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, who quit music for 18 months after contracting tinnitus
‘I thought my musician days were numbered’ … Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge, who quit music for 18 months after contracting tinnitus. Photograph: Chuck Brueckmann

The Bafta-winning film Sound of Metal dramatises every musician’s worst nightmare. Ruben Stone, played by Riz Ahmed – who is up for a best actor Oscar this weekend – is a metal drummer who loses his hearing, and the film depicts Ruben’s loss exactly as he hears it, where the world around him and the intense music he plays suddenly fade to a muted and distorted drone.

These scary and involving scenes have highlighted a crisis in hearing damage right across the music industry, be it through deafness or tinnitus (a constant ringing in the ears). In a report published last month by the British Tinnitus Association (BTA), over half of the 74 tinnitus-suffering musicians surveyed said they developed the condition due to noise exposure, but nearly a quarter said they never wore hearing protection.

In 2002, before Myles Kennedy went on to front the hugely successful US hard rock band Alter Bridge – their last two albums have gone Top 5 in the UK – he was diagnosed with tinnitus. Kennedy had been playing in bands since the mid-80s and working with high levels of sound in his home studio. After his diagnosis, he left the music business for 18 months.

“I thought my days were numbered as a musician,” Myles says. “I stopped playing live and went back to teaching guitar.” When Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash asked Myles to audition for the supergroup that would become Velvet Revolver, he declined. “I was concerned about my hearing,” Myles says. “The fear that it could get worse was the thing for me: how bad is this gonna get?”

Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal
Every musician’s worst nightmare … Riz Ahmed in Sound of Metal. Photograph: Landmark Media/Alamy

“For a musician, losing your hearing is like losing a hand,” says Steve Lukather of Toto, who developed tinnitus in 1986 and also suffers from hearing loss. Hearing aids mean that Steve can continue his career, but watching Sound of Metal hit close to home. “The movie disturbed me,” he says. “I know what it’s like to be all muffled up like that. It’s terrifying – and a very real problem.”

“Noise-induced hearing loss and tinnitus usually occur over a period of time, starting with temporary changes that may initially recover,” says BTA president Tony Kay. “This may become permanent if continued exposure to noise without adequate protection persists. If the noise is loud enough, permanent changes can occur after one exposure.”

For Amos Williams, bassist in metal band Tesseract, his tinnitus began as a teenager, while playing drums in bands and percussion in the school orchestra. “The severity of not having hearing protection was never expressed to me,” Amos says. “[The ringing] was almost expected when you’re playing or attending rock and metal shows. It got progressively worse – and now there’s no such thing as silence.”

“No one used to talk about wearing earplugs,” says Lisa Cope, who works for a record label and has hearing damage and tinnitus after years of tour managing. “I can’t hear anything under a certain decibel, and when I get stressed the tinnitus becomes like a chorus of crickets.”

Tinnitus can be debilitating, both physically and psychologically, and it’s usually in quiet moments that it screams the loudest: many sufferers say it’s worst when going to bed. “I can’t sleep without a podcast on,” says Dan Smith, bassist in extreme metal band Calligram. “When I listen to quieter music on headphones, I can hear my tinnitus over the music.”

Extreme metal band Calligram, with Dan Smith, second left.
Extreme metal band Calligram, with Dan Smith, second left. Photograph: Nick Sayers

For those who work in music, there is the additional worry that it could affect their livelihood. Singer-songwriter Rosalie Cunningham experienced mild distortion in her ears in the past, but after contracting Covid, her symptoms worsened. Now, the prospect of returning to live shows is a concern: “I’m terrified that something will happen on stage, and I won’t know what to do,” she says.

“I used to worry that people would think I couldn’t do my job,” says Eleanor Goodman, deputy editor of Metal Hammer magazine. “But when I started talking about it, I found out that tinnitus is very common in the music industry. Being open about it has been so much better.”

Hearing protection is key – even if you already have tinnitus. “People can think, I’ve done the damage, I’ll just carry on,” says Georgina Burns-O’Connell, lead author of the BTA report. “But that can do more damage.”

Rosalie Cunningham.
Rosalie Cunningham. Photograph: Rosco Levee

In 2016, Help Musicians started the Musicians Hearing Health Scheme in partnership with the Musicians’ Union, which gives musicians access to hearing assessments and moulded earplugs at a reduced cost. “Musicians should care as much for their hearing as they do for their instrument,” says James Ainscough, the charity’s chief executive. So far, the scheme has helped over 12,000 people.

There are also services that offer mental health support, such as Music Minds Matter, and the BTA recently established monthly support groups specifically for musicians. “While there isn’t a cure, there are ways to manage tinnitus, and to live well with it,” says Burns-O’Connell.

Those affected say there are techniques that have helped them – including wearing in-ear monitors and moulded earplugs, staying hydrated, avoiding stress, using podcasts and music as distraction, and support groups and therapy. “CBT put me on a positive path,” says Michael Daniels, a trumpet player, conductor and educator who works in a variety of styles from classical and choral to big band and jazz. “Mindfulness has also been very helpful for me: it’s a way of coming to terms with what’s going on.”

Around two years after his tinnitus diagnosis, Myles Kennedy joined Alter Bridge and went on to tour arenas around the world. Through techniques like meditation and the advanced technology of in-ear monitors, his condition no longer holds him back.

“The tinnitus forced me to take care of my hearing,” says Myles. “Twenty years from now, if we have this same discussion, I want to be able to hear everything you’re saying. I had to learn how to shut off that anxiety, to stop obsessing – it took a long time to get to that point. The in-ear monitors mean that I can continue doing what I love, without doing more damage. I’m so grateful – I can’t imagine a life not making music.”

Hannah May KilroyFri 23 Apr 2021

hearing and seeing impairment -50% chance of dementia

 A new study says losing function in both senses may put you at greater risk of dementia and cognitive decline years later. The research is published in the April 7, 2021, online issue of Neurology, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology. The study did not find such a link between losing just one of those senses.

“Depending on the degree of hearing or vision loss, losing function in your senses can be distressing and have an impact on your daily life,” said study author JinHyeong Jhoo, M.D., Ph.D., of Kangwon National University School of Medicine in Chuncheon, Republic of Korea. “But our study results suggest losing both may be of particular concern.”

The study looked at 6,520 people between the ages of 58 and 101. Visual and hearing impairment was determined by questionnaire asking about using glasses or hearing aids. People rated their hearing as “normal,” “reduced, but able to communicate without a hearing aid,” “difficult communicating with a hearing aid” or “no hearing at all.” People rated their sight as “normal,” “reduced, but able to view newspaper or TV without wearing glasses,” “unable to view newspaper or TV with glasses” or “no sight at all.”

At the beginning of the study, 932 people had normal seeing and hearing, 2,957 had either visual or hearing impairment, and 2,631 said they had both impairments.

Dementia was more than twice as common in the group with both impairments at the beginning of the study. In that group, 201 people out of 2,631, or 8%, had dementia at the start of the study, compared to 2.4% with one sensory impairment and 2.3% with no sensory impairment.

Researchers evaluated people’s thinking and memory skills every two years for six years using a test that includes word recall and recognition. Then they analyzed the relationship between having a hearing or vision impairment and dementia and having both impairments and dementia.

During the six-year follow-up period, 245 people developed dementia. Of the 1,964 people with both impairments, 146 developed dementia, compared to 69 of the 2,396 people with one impairment and 14 of the 737 people with no impairments. In addition, 16 out of 142 people who could not determine whether they had a sensory impairment developed dementia.

After adjusting for factors like sex, education and income, researchers found that the group with both hearing and seeing impairment were twice as likely to develop dementia than the group with normal sensory function. People with just one impairment were no more likely to develop dementia than those with normal sensory function.

In addition, the decline on thinking test scores was steeper among people with both hearing and vision impairment.

Jhoo says that further research is needed to explain why people with two impairments have a greater risk for dementia than those with one.

“Older people with only a visual or hearing impairment can usually still maintain social contact, so they may not feel be as isolated or depressed as people who have both impairments,” Jhoo said. “However, when someone has both impairments, that may increase the risk of isolation and depression, which previous research has found may affect dementia risk and thinking skills later on.”

A limitation of the study is that participants completed a questionnaire about their hearing and vision. Not having objective measures of people’s hearing and vison could have affected the study results.


The study was supported by Research of Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Learn more about dementia at, home of the American Academy of Neurology’s free patient and caregiver magazine focused on the intersection of neurologic disease and brain health. Follow Brain & Life® on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

When posting to social media channels about this research, we encourage you to use the hashtags #Neurology and #AANscience.

The American Academy of Neurology is the world’s largest association of neurologists and neuroscience professionals, with over 36,000 members. The AAN is dedicated to promoting the highest quality patient-centered neurologic care. A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system such as Alzheimer’s disease, stroke, migraine, multiple sclerosis, concussion, Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

3M on Trial for Failing to Protect SOLDIERS Hearing

3M on Trial for Failing to Protect Soldiers Hearing

Veterans claim that the 3M knowingly gave soldiers defective NOISE REDUCTION earplugs.

Julia Métraux

Health Writer

30 March 2021

1280px 3 M Building Maplewood Mn1

Image via Wikimedia Commons/Acroterion

The first trial began yesterday for multinational corporation 3M—for its defective military-issued earplugs. There are over 229,397 lawsuits from veterans and soldiers who claim that 3M knowingly gave defective earplugs to soldiers to use in combat. Two subsequent trials will take place in May and June.

“Combat Arms CAEv2” earplugs, sold by 3M-subsidiary Aearo Technologies, were designed for use by the US Military, and sold to the US government between 1999 and 2015. The Star Tribune reports that damages related to the faulty earplugs “could tally in the hundreds of millions of dollars, if not more, based on the outcome of other large mass tort cases in recent years.” The plaintiffs from the first trial are veterans, mostly between the ages of 30 and 49.

One plaintiff, U.S. combat veteran Dave Henderson, started to experience ringing in his ears and had trouble hearing people after using the Combat Arms earplugs in the field. Henderson told Reuters that “we had no choice but to use the 3M earplugs” because the soldiers “trusted that our equipment would work.” Henderson told Reuters that he has to sleep with a fan to help with the ringing in his ears, and sometimes cannot hear when his children are crying.

The plaintiffs claim that 3M knowingly hid product defects—namely that the CAEv2 earplug didn’t always fit properly—from the U.S. Department of Defense.  Aearo’s own laboratory tests, conducted in 2000, showed that the earplugs weren’t effective unless they were fitted “in a particular way.” According to Star Tribune, 3M claimed that it informed the military about “fitting issues”, but “in a 2018 report, the Army concluded that had the government known about tests […] it may not have purchased Combat Arms earplugs.” 3M also paid a $9.1 million penalty in a whistleblower settlement but did not admit liability. 3M also paid a $9.1 million penalty in a whistleblower settlement but did not admit liability.

Judge M. Casey Rodgers of U.S. District Court for northern Florida, who will hear all three consolidated claims, will not allow 3M to use the “government contractor defense”, which would potentially “offer protection from state law product liability actions arising out of a contractor’s compliance with a federal government contract,” according to the American Bar Association.

The key point in this trial is whether or not 3M knew that the Combat Arms earplugs were defective. Hearing loss is a major issue for veterans, and a costly service-connected injury for the VA. The U.S. Department of Veteran’s Affairs reported that  “more than 933,000 Veterans were receiving disability compensation for hearing loss, and nearly 1.3 million received compensation for tinnitus” at the end of the fiscal year of 2014.

Julia Métraux

Health Writer

Julia Métraux is a health and culture writer with hearing loss and a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists. Check out her portfolio.

Ear Buds to Hearing Aids

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro are tested as a hearing aids — the results are here:

By James Archer 3 days ago

Study finds Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro can help with hearing loss

Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro

(Image credit: Samsung)

The Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro has an Ambient Sound mode that uses onboard microphones to pick up and amplify sounds that you’d otherwise struggle to hear with the headphones in. Conceptually it’s no different to the transparency modes on many other wireless earbuds, but a new study has suggested the feature could make the Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro an alternative to dedicated hearing aids.

The study, conducted by the Samsung Medical Center and published in the peer-reviewed Clinical and Experimental Otorhinolaryngology journal, involved 18 participants with mild or moderate hearing loss. Of these, 57.6% reported that using the Galaxy Buds Pro was beneficial to their hearing in quiet environments.

It’s important to note the limitations of such a small sample size, as well as the fact that conventional hearing aids outperformed the Galaxy Buds Pro — especially in noisy environments, where only 26.3% of participants reported a benefit from the Samsung earbuds.

But while Samsung isn’t advocating the Galaxy Buds Pro as a one-to-one replacement to hearing aids, the study does make a good point in suggesting headphones with ambient/transparency modes could be useful in low- and middle-income countries, where hearing aids are prohibitively expensive. RECOMMENDED VIDEOS FOR YOU…CLOSEVolume 0%PLAY SOUNDThis video file cannot be played.(Error Code: 203000)

The World Health Organization’s research on deafness and hearing loss, cited in the Samsung study, notes that 80% of people with disabling hearing loss live in these countries, and that only 17% of those who could benefit from a hearing loss actually wear one.

Hearing aids can be free at the point of use in some countries, like the U.K., though elsewhere the $199 Galaxy Buds Pro could feasibly be seen as a more attainable alternative to hearing aids that typically cost several times as much. Even if it’s not as effective, and has a battery life lasting a few hours (instead of several days like most hearing aids).

Samsung has focused on the therapeutic qualities of the Galaxy Buds Pro before. In January it released a software update that added the ability to adjust volume on the left and right Galaxy Buds Pro independently, potentially helping those with worse hearing in one ear than another.

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super hearing coming

Google’s Project Wolverine is a HEARING AID in the future

Google’s X division has been secretly working on a fascinating project it calls “Wolverine.” It has to do with technology that enhances augmented reality (AR) applications. Google’s X division focuses exclusively on “moonshot” projects.
Project Wolverine is all about supplying users with a wearable device that employs directional microphones to enable “super hearing.” It’s a reference to the X-Men character Wolverine. The technology is still being fleshed out. The idea is that these directional microphones will connect to ear pods and likely work in conjunction with both outward- and inward-facing cameras on a pair of glasses or some other wearable device. This will allow the sensor-packed hardware to know who we are focusing on in the noisy room. And then we can direct the microphones to zero in on what that person is saying. The mics will filter out the background noise so we can hear our target clearly. This technology is called speech segregation, and I think it is the future.

. Speech segregation solves the problem of hearing in a noisy environment. We can imagine using this device at events like restaurants or parties to focus in on the person we are speaking to. This cuts through all the chaos in common areas. Of course, the same dynamic is true for any other event or gathering. This tech would be useful even at our holiday dinners or cocktail parties. So I think that every company working on AR will ultimately adopt this technology. It just makes too much sense.
However, there are major privacy concerns with this. It’s easy to imagine how this tech could be used for nefarious purposes. Bad actors could eavesdrop on private conversations happening at coffee shops, restaurants, and town squares.

And then there’s Google… We already know that Google’s goal is to extract as much behavioral data from us as possible. The company packages this data into a detailed dossier that it sells to anyone willing to pay. In this way, the argument could be made that Google knows many of us better than we know ourselves. Now, imagine Google pairing facial recognition technology with speech segregation. Suddenly, Google can document exactly what we are talking about out in public. That gives it an even more invasive framework in which to build its profile on us. So this is incredibly useful technology that I believe will gain rapid adoption. But as with everything, we need to be diligent about how it is used. Let us hope that other Corporations will adopt this technology for the common good.

Many “DIRECTIONAL HEARING AIDS ” have been on the market beginning about 50 years ago with Maico Hearing aid Company. I introduced that hearing aid in the Los Angeles county on TV, radio and the Los Angeles Times 3/4 page advertisement. I formed an advertising group of Southern Calif. Specialists. I was the President of “The Guild of Hearing Aid Disp.”

The BTE Hearing aid had 2 mics (Knowles) in a behind ear hearing aid. The front facing mic amplified the full sound. The rear facing mic reduced the sound coming from the rear, about 40% . They provide a significant benefit. The idea has been copied by most every other company since.
But today, when these mics are coupled with more mics. and the advanced technology that is described above, we will see great advances of HEARING IN NOISY SITUATIONS..

hearing aid molds prices

Hearing aid molds prices range from $2 each to over $200 each.


Provider/seller ear molds cost from $80 to $250 each, hat is, the person who sold you your hearing aid.

 Some of  the popular Audiologist from Laboratory earmolds are at the left in the below photo. They cost from $80 to $250 EACH, DEPENDING ON YOUR HEARING AID PROVIDER’s FEE who sold and adjusted it.. 

Those above, on the left, are Lab molds, made of Lucite, acrylic and Urethane hard plastic and these particular molds are made for BTE, Behind The Ear Hearing aids. They require an impression of your ear be taken, mailed to a factory where the ear mold is made and mailed back to the seller. Upon receipt, the seller calls you for an appointment. This entire process typically takes from 9 to 21 days. You may also need to return to fix problems and make adjustments.

The remaining earmolds above on the right are made for BTE hearing Aids. Those in the center are for RIC and Open Fit hearing aids. They are  DIY from HCPB Ear mold Kits that are made from flexible Medical Grade Silicone rubber putty at a cost of $2 Each to $12 Each. They take only 10 minutes to make in your own home

You are in control HCPB rar molds for your satisfaction. They are available in 3 skin colors, Tan, Brown and Dark Brown. They work with ALL BRANDS and MODEL Hearing Aids and are shipped PRIORITY in 2 to 3 day USPS FREE.

For more information click here.