A diagnostic test for cochlear synaptopathy in humans

01 September 2020 → 28 February 2022
European funding: framework programme
Principal investigator
Research disciplines
  • Engineering and technology
    • Audio and speech computing
hearing damage
Other information
Project description
The CochSyn-test aims to diagnose the first signs of permanent hearing damage with a 10-15 min clinical hearing-screening test. The test quantifies cochlear synaptopathy, i.e. damage to the cochlear auditory-nerve fiber synapses due to ageing, noise-exposure or ototoxicity, with a non-invasive auditory EEG test. Because synaptopathy is associated with reduced speech intelligibility and occurs before the audiogram shows signs of hearing damage, our test is more sensitive than the audiogram (present clinical standard) and can quantify a widespread form of sensorineural hearing loss. The CochSyn test makes early-diagnosis and early-intervention possible, which the WHO determined as cost-effective in reducing the financial burden associated with untreated hearing loss. In this PoC project, we plan to fine-tune the CochSyn-test and build a normative dataset of test outcomes (N=300) for a diverse population of people at risk for synaptopathy. This dataset is necessary to (i) determine the application area of the test and enable a precise diagnostic interpretation, (ii) convince ENT doctors about adopting the test and companies to invest in it, and (iii), convince health agencies and policy makers that synaptopathy is an important health risk, given its impact on degrading speech intelligibility in noisy listening environments.

Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council Executive Agency (ERCEA). Neither the European Union nor the authority can be held responsible for them.