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Defense Grant Expands Testing of New Tool for Diagnosing Hearing Loss

Professor Lee Miller receives a $1.5 million grant to develop brain-based diagnostic.

A $1.5 million grant from the U.S Department of Defense will help Lee Miller, a professor at the Center for Mind and Brain and in the Department of Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, develop a new tool for quickly diagnosing hearing loss.

Our sense of hearing relies on our brains as well as our ears, making diagnosis tricky. “Even time-honored measures such as hearing quiet tones, which for decades have informed the U.S. fitness-for-duty profile, utterly fail to predict speech comprehension and military job performance,” Miller said.

Miller and colleagues developed a diagnostic tool that utilizes an individual’s brain waves. “Our rapid 10-minute brain-behavior assessment uses uniquely engineered speech sounds to characterize the entire hearing-speech brain simultaneously,” said Miller. “This will enable quick screening of service members in the field for auditory combat-readiness.”

The team tested the tool on more than 200 individuals with healthy hearing and hearing loss. With the new grant, Miller and his team will expand testing to include 120 veterans. 

To learn more, read a College of Biological Sciences article about the grant, Miller’s research and its potential for developing better hearing aids and new therapies.