A five-year-old girl who has been unable to hear sounds since she was born has been helped by a team of Korean and Italian researchers.
The girl’s brain functions normally but what has been damaged is the nerve that transmits sound signals from the ear to a part of the brain called the aural centrum.
The Yonsei University College of Medicine and Italian experts have transplanted a computer chip and an artificial neural network into the girl’s brain. The electronic nerve transforms sound into digital signals which are transmitted to the brain stem and processed by the aural centrum.
Following the transplant doctors say they have begun detecting in the child the signature brainwaves of sound perception. The Yonsei medical team is hopeful that the girl’s condition will improve, allowing her not only to hear but to speak as well.
The treatment is applicable to most hearing-impaired people with the exception of those who have suffered brain damage.