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Friday
Apr282017

A mother's voice may help stabilize preterm infants

A recent review of published research indicates that hearing their mother's voice can benefit the health of preterm infants.


The review included 15 studies with 512 infants from 2000 to 2015. Hearing the maternal voice, either recorded or live, was linked with the physiologic and behavioural stabilisation of preterm infants, with fewer cardiorespiratory events. There is insufficient evidence to evaluate long-term effects, however.

"Preterm infants' state becomes more stable when mothers talk and sing to them, with potential clinical benefits on autonomous nervous system maturation," said Dr. Manuela Filippa, lead author of the Acta Paediatrica study. "This is an appeal to caring teams for supporting vocal contact between parents and preterm infants, as well as an invitation to investigate its long-term effects on preterm infants' development."

Source: ScienceDaily, April 5, 2017 (retrieved April 28, 2017)

Thursday
Apr272017

Few researchers consider hearing loss in healthcare communication: Study

Review of literature by NYU-led team points to gap

Doctors believe that communication with their patients is important, but most studies of physician/elderly patient communication do not mention that hearing loss may affect this interaction. The findings come from a review led by two NYU professors published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Many researchers have explored communication between doctors and their patients, but how many of them have considered the importance of hearing loss? To investigate this question, a team led by Dr. Joshua Chodosh of New York University School of Medicine and Dr. Jan Blustein, the NYU's Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service and the School of Medicine, reviewed the published medical literature on doctor-patient communication, selecting research studies that involved patients aged 60 years and older.

Of the 67 papers included in their study, only 16 (23.9%) included any mention of hearing loss. In some cases (4 out of the 67), people with hearing loss were excluded from the study. Three of the studies reported on an association between hearing loss and quality of care. In only one study did the researchers offer patients some kind of hearing assistance to see whether it would improve communication. (It found that offering hearing assistance improved patients' understanding.) Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, April 25, 2017 (retrieved April 27, 2017)

Wednesday
Apr262017

What's coming next? Scientists identify how the brain predicts speech

The artificial grammar used in this study and the phase-amplitude coupling in human auditory cortex. Credit Dr Y. Kikuchi et al. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.2000219

An international collaboration of neuroscientists has shed light on how the brain helps us to predict what is coming next in speech.

In the study, publishing on April 25 in the open access journal PLOS Biology scientists from Newcastle University, UK, and a neurosurgery group at the University of Iowa, USA, report that they have discovered mechanisms in the brain's auditory cortex involved in processing speech and predicting upcoming words, which is essentially unchanged throughout evolution. Their research reveals how individual neurons coordinate with neural populations to anticipate events, a process that is impaired in many neurological and psychiatric disorders such as dyslexia, schizophrenia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).

Using an approach first developed for studying infant language learning, the team of neuroscientists led by Dr Yuki Kikuchi and Prof Chris Petkov of Newcastle University had humans and monkeys listen to sequences of spoken words from a made-up language. Both species were able to learn the predictive relationships between the spoken sounds in the sequences. Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, April 25, 2017

Tuesday
Apr252017

Gene may hold key to hearing recovery

Researchers have discovered that a protein implicated in human longevity may also play a role in restoring hearing after noise exposure. The findings, where were published in the journal Scientific Reports, could one day provide researchers with new tools to prevent hearing loss.

The study reveals that a gene called Forkhead Box O3 (Foxo3) appears to play a role in protecting outer hair cells in the inner ear from damage. The outer hair cells act as a biological sound amplifier and are critical to hearing. When exposed to loud noises, these cells undergo stress. In some individuals, these cells are able to recover, but in others the outer hair cells die, permanently impairing hearing. While hearing aids and other treatments can help recovered some range of hearing, there is currently no biological cure for hearing loss.

"While more than a hundred genes have been identified as being involved in childhood hearing loss, little is known about the genes that regulate hearing recovery after noise exposure," said Patricia White, Ph.D., a research associate professor in the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) Department of Neuroscience and lead author of the study. "Our study shows that Foxo3 could play an important role in determining which individuals might be more susceptible to noise-induced hearing loss."

Approximately one-third of people who reach retirement age have some degree of hearing loss, primarily due to noise exposure over their lifetimes. The problem is even more acute in the military, with upwards of 60 percent of individuals who have been deployed in forward areas experiencing hearing loss, making it the most common disability for combat veterans. Continue reading

Source: EurekAlert, April 24, 2017

Monday
Apr242017

In young bilingual children, two languages develop simultaneously but independently

Study also shows Spanish is vulnerable to being taken over by English, but English is not vulnerable to being taken over by Spanish

Erika Hoff, Ph.D., lead author of the study, a psychology professor in FAU’s Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and director of the Language Development Lab. Credit: Image courtesy of Florida Atlantic University

A new study of Spanish-English bilingual children by researchers at Florida Atlantic University published in the journal Developmental Science finds that when children learn two languages from birth each language proceeds on its own independent course, at a rate that reflects the quality of the children's exposure to each language.

In addition, the study finds that Spanish skills become vulnerable as children's English skills develop, but English is not vulnerable to being taken over by Spanish. In their longitudinal data, the researchers found evidence that as the children developed stronger skills in English, their rates of Spanish growth declined. Spanish skills did not cause English growth to slow, so it's not a matter of necessary trade-offs between two languages.

"One well established fact about monolingual development is that the size of children's vocabularies and the grammatical complexity of their speech are strongly related. It turns out that this is true for each language in bilingual children," said Erika Hoff, Ph.D., lead author of the study, a psychology professor in FAU's Charles E. Schmidt College of Science, and director of the Language Development Lab. "But vocabulary and grammar in one language are not related to vocabulary or grammar in the other language." Continue reading

Source: ScienceDaily, April 20, 2017 (retrieved April 24, 2017)