South American bushcricket could hold the secrets to hearing loss
Nov 16, 2012 in Hearing Aids
You may remember some weeks back when we told you about how an unfortunate woman's hearing had been ruined by a rogue ladybird.
However, now it seems that the animal kingdom may be about to provide a boost for those battling with hearing loss across the world, thanks to the South American bushcricket.
Scientists have managed to find a previously unidentified hearing organ in cricket's ear which researchers from the University of Bristol and the University of Lincoln claim could have a big impact for hearing aids.
The crickets have four ear drums in total but, until now, it wasn't fully known how they all connected and how they enabled the creature to hear properly as the membrane which vibrates in reaction to sound does not directly connect with the sensory receptors.
However, Dr Fernando Montealegre-Z, from the University of Lincoln's School of Life Sciences, explained that a fluid-filled tool within the creature helps to regulate the process of conversion of sound into mechanical, hydraulic and electrochemical energy.
While this all sounds very technical, the gist of the research is that the hearing within these creatures is, in fact, very similar to that of humans and experts are suggesting it could play a big role in helping people to hear properly.
Dr James Windmill, from the Centre for Ultrasonic Engineering in the University of Strathclyde's Department of Electronic and Electrical Engineering, was certainly of this opinion.
He said: "[The] findings will make a valuable contribution to our search for the next generation of ultrasonic engineering technologies.
By improving our understanding of insect hearing and sensory systems, we can incorporate new ideas and techniques into a wide range of technologies, including hearing aids and biomedical imaging systems for hospitals."
Anything that can help improve the lives of those suffering with deafness is obviously a positive one and we'll certainly be keeping an eye on how much it impacts on hearing aids and other such devices.