Understanding the link between hearing and cognition to develop new treatments for hearing loss
The vision of the Brain and Hearing team is to develop new knowledge and seek clinical strategies to enable and empower people living with challenges associated with their hearing, cognitive and mental health.
The primary research themes are:
- Cognition and hearing
- Wellbeing and mental health, and
- Service delivery models to increase accessibility and participation through early detection and intervention.
These are underpinned by theories, such as behaviour change theory and implementation science theory, using appropriate outcomes to evaluate novel procedures, devices and technologies.
The Brain and Hearing research group is multidisciplinary, including hearing science researchers, psychologists, neurophysiologists, engineers and clinical audiologists.
Highlighted Brain & Hearing Group Projects | 2022
Developing novel innovations in hearing healthcare
Developing new treatments, strategies and policies to manage hearing impairment with wearable devices.
The exciting joint venture between Ear Science Institute Australia, Curtin University and research colleagues at Oticon will gain momentum in 2022. Associate Professor Melanie Ferguson, Head of Brain and Hearing, leads a team that includes Ear Science’s Dr Dona Jayakody and Ellen Bothe and engineers, from Curtin University.
Together, they will develop novel hearing healthcare solutions to improve listening, cognition, and quality of life in adults with hearing loss, including those with cognitive impairment.
Lead Researcher | Assoc Prof Mel Ferguson
Hearing loss and cognition
Changing the way we age by treating hearing loss to prevent dementia.
This project investigates the association between hearing loss and dementia. A critical study is to determine whether hearing aids can improve cognitive skills. It is important to maintain cognitive skills, as a decline in these is an important risk factor for dementia.
Dr Dona Jayakody currently leads the Australian Cognition and Hearing Loss Project (ACHLOS) at Ear Science Institute Australia.
Lead Researcher | Dr Dona Jayakody
Psychosocial impact of hearing loss
Understanding and addressing the mental wellbeing of people with hearing loss.
Hearing loss and mental health are often linked. Research has shown that hearing loss places a significant burden on many aspects of life. Research from Ear Science and others has demonstrated that children & adults with hearing loss have a greater risk of mental health problems, particularly increased anxiety.
Dr Bec Bennett’s research focuses on the experience of hearing loss, including how hearing loss can affect us socially, emotionally and psychologically.
Lead Researcher | Dr Bec Bennett
Understanding hearing loss in the population
Studies of hearing loss in the population provide valuable information on the prevalence and incidence of hearing loss and related conditions.
These studies also determine risk factors and how they may be related to other health conditions. They provide policy makers and health providers with data on managing and treating hearing loss and how to prioritise research.
Ear Science is involved in two major epidemiology studies with a high international reputation
- The Busselton Healthy Ageing Study collected data from 5,100 Baby Boomers between 2010 and 2016, and is continuing to collect data on their health.
- The Raine Cohort Study commenced in 1990 and has followed the health of almost 3000 newborns and their families since then.
Lead Researcher | Adj Prof Rob Eikelboom
Improve awareness and referral for cochlear implants
Enhancing identification and referral of potential cochlear implant candidates.
Fewer than 10% of Australian adults who need a cochlear implant get one. Dr Cathy Sucher will look for ways to improve the uptake of this life-changing technology by providing audiologists with the knowledge, resources and tools to support their discussions with clients.
Currently, audiologists have a lot of often complex information for potential candidates to understand during a hearing appointment. Within a busy clinic, having the time needed to address each individual’s barriers to cochlear implant referral comprehensively can be time-consuming and often unproductive for both parties.