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Scientists Create Super-Hearing Mice to Study Hearing Loss in Humans | Science & Health

Scientists Create Super-Hearing Mice to Study Hearing Loss in Humans | Science & Health

Rodents used in laboratory tests – Photo: Unsplash

In the midst of research to better understand the factors that lead to hearing loss, Researchers at the University of Michigan have created a mouse with super hearing.The study was published in Plus Biology.

The group, led by neurobiologist Lingchao Ji, achieved this feat by stimulating the growth of a nerve called neurotrophin 3 (Ntf3) in laboratory animals. A previous study had already shown that Ntf3 can improve hearing in middle-aged mice and restore hearing in damaged rodent ears.

Hearing improvement occurs because the procedure increases the number of synapses between the hair cells responsible for interacting with sound vibrations in the ear and the brain.

In an interview with Science Alert, neurobiologist Gabriel Corvas said that it was already known what Ntf3 could do in terms of increasing synapses, but the effect on hearing was still unknown. “We were surprised to find that the brain was able to process the additional auditory stimulus.”

So far, the study shows that the initial reception of sounds has not changed, but the increased number of connections means that the brain has a much greater ability to recognize noise.

The project suggests that a reduction in these synapses in humans may be behind hearing loss, as the increased “delay” between receiving and processing information is much greater in people with smaller synapses.

Human testing still needs to be done, but the article suggests that stimulating Ntf3 should have similar effects.


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