Making sense of sound

Imagine a baby who doesn’t startle at a sudden noise. Tests show hearing loss. If
the type of hearing loss is something called sensorineural, then sound
comes into the baby’s ear, but the information never reaches the brain.
The problem is often damage to hair cells in the inner ear, called the
cochlea. The cells cannot convert the energy created by sound vibrations
into a nerve impulse that would travel via the auditory nerve to the
A century ago — even 30 years ago — treatments or hearing aids
to help with sensorineural hearing loss were primitive or non-existent,
depending on the extent of damage. The child likely would have had to
go to a special school or to have special education to learn another way
to communicate, such as sign language. The child would have lived in a world of virtual silence.
In this article journalist Susan Pugh highlights some of the current available procedures and research underway to help battle hearing loss.