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Next: a better hearing test

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009
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Eyes have been called the window to the soul and gateway to the heart, but a pathway to the ear? Professor Terry Takahashi and research associate Avinash Bala of the University of Oregon’s Institute of Neuroscience recently discovered that pupils dilate in response to sound. The discovery of the auditory-visual link led the scientists to develop a new hearing test that will measure if and how a patient’s pupils react to different volumes and pitches. For children and the seriously ill, the new test could mean a much earlier diagnosis of hearing loss than with traditional hearing tests, which require a patient to be aware enough to respond to questions. The prototype — likely to be comprised of a high-resolution camera, a sound-emitting device and a software program — will be in development for the next two years. “Early screening is a big deal,” says Takahashi. “The sooner you can intervene, the better it is for kids in school.”

NICOLE STORMBERG


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