A new auditory implant will allow people to hear the light

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<pre>A new auditory implant will allow people to hear the light

German researchers are working on a technology for radical optimization of cochlear implants, which will allow them to improve the quality of their work many times. Today it is a simple, even primitive device, a converter of acoustic oscillations into electrical impulses for neurons. But what if we expand the palette of incoming signals by adding light?

The idea is based on the fact that similar implants do not restore the hearing as such, but only model the patient's picture of the world, through responses to external stimuli. A simple microphone is not able to distinguish a polyphony, and under conditions of a large noise load the implant is completely useless. A more accurate source of signal is needed, which light can become.

In the experiment, syringe mice were injected with a virus that delivered a modified gene to the neurons in the ear – it is responsible for the reaction to light. Further in the ears inserted optical fiber to transfer light from outside to neurons. These mice have a clearly expressed reflex to a sharp sound in the form of a jump and when scientists turned on the light, the experimental mice reacted to it as if to the sound of alarm – they jumped. Then the mice were operated on, made deaf, but they continued to jump, reacting to the inclusion of light.

The authors of the study believe that they are on the verge of a revolution in the creation of cochlear implants. After all, if you combine the acoustic and light signal, the patient's brain will receive a much sharper, more detailed picture of which side the sound is coming from, from which object, from what distance, etc. And if you think about it, as the complex of sensors grows, we can get something unique, not only compensate for the loss of feelings, but also improve their capabilities to a fantastic level.

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