New hearing loss study will be based out of Grand Falls-Windsor lab

Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears, to be focus of study


Published on April 10, 2017

Dr. Ian C. Bruce, PHD, and associate professor for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Hamilton Ontario’s McMaster University to speak about a new tinnitus study to be conducted on the island.

©Patrick Murphy/TC Media

GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR — Almost 20 per cent of all Canadians have some form of hearing loss, double most previous estimates according to Statistics Canada.

With the increasing prevalence of hearing loss in older people, an aging Canadian population, and risky listening habits in young people, experts says the threat is only growing. 

With that in mind, the Town of Grand Falls-Windsor, the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Technology Industries (NATI) and the Excite Corporation brought  

Dr. Ian C. Bruce, PHD, and associate professor for the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Hamilton Ontario’s McMaster University to speak about the rising prevalence of hearing loss and tinnitus in particular.

Tinnitus is the perception of noise or ringing in the ears. The condition itself is considered a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury or a circulatory system disorder.  

Not much is known about the disorder, but that is rapidly changing. Researchers believe the underlying issue is not in the ear itself, but rather with the brains ability to translate the signal. As a result, Bruce and one of his students have created a computer model that helps the brain translate the information correctly.

“The option at the moment, is they take classical music and process it like a hearing aid would do,” said Bruce. “A processor, sort of like a hearing aid would do, but instead of trying to give the adjustment of different frequencies based on the audiogram.” 

The group has conducted a study at McMaster University that showed patients that participated in the auditory retraining showed a marked decrease in effects of tinnitus.

The group is planning another larger study and will utilize the founder population demographic located in central Newfoundland. A founder population is the result of starting a new population with a low number of individuals, as is the case with Newfoundland.  

Dr. Terry Young, Director of Genomics Research, Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University and head of the Genomic-Based R&D Centre identified the founder population in an earlier study for Hearing Science in Grand Falls-Windsor, NL Canada.