By Joseph Pierre M. Halbwachs, hearing care professional and student of the Master in Clinical Audiology and Hearing Therapy


Background: The prevalent understanding of sensorineural hearing loss has been that hair cells are the prime targets of damage and that auditory nerve loss occurs mostly after hair cell degeneration. Recent research suggests that the synapses between hair cells and cochlear nerve terminals, rather than the hair cells themselves, degenerate first in the aged or noise-exposed ear, a condition known as Cochlear Synaptopathy. This early neuronal degeneration contributes to problems understanding speech in difficult listening environments.

Purpose: The goal of this research is to address fundamental issues about the diagnosis and therapy of synaptic dysfunction in hair cells.

Method: To consolidate the material and give insights for treatments, the thesis employed a literature review of studies in the diagnosis and treatment of cochlear synaptopathy. We utilized a chronological search technique to find abstracts and articles for the literature review. With animal and human research, eleven papers are covered.

Findings: As a result of cochlear synaptopathy, nerve cells are irreversibly destroyed. According to animal studies, cochlear synaptopathy may have a significant role in presbycusis. Normal aging and/or acoustic overexposure can result in a significant loss of afferent synapses innervating the cochlea, according to research in a variety of animals, including post-mortem human tissue. Of course, cell regeneration would be the ideal treatment.

Conclusion: Synapses between inner hair cells and auditory nerve fibers can be restored, as per researchers. Real molecular and cellular treatments, such as viral gene transfer and genome “editing” approaches that are now being investigated in animal models, will soon contribute in the rehabilitation of sensorineural hearing impairments. It will also include “smart” hearing aids to reduce noise and filters designed for specific needs of each patient.

Keywords: Cochlear Synaptopathy, hair cells, Audiology, sensorineural hearing loss,

Download the full Research Work: Joseph Pierre M. Halbwachs (2021). Cochlear synaptopathy A Reconnection of Cochlear Neurons. SAERA


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