Jan 2021 Korea Biomedical Review

Researchers at Asan Medical Center (AMC) have found that analysing the range of brain atrophy can help hospitals predict a cochlear implant's results. Professor Park Hong-joo at Asan Medical Center has led the development of an artificial intelligence program that can predict cochlear implant results. (AMC) The team, led by Professor Park Hong-joo at the hospital, came to such a conclusion after comparing the brain MRI of 94 patients with severe hearing loss who underwent cochlear implant surgery at the hospital as they could not recover their hearing even with a hearing aid and 37  patients with the normal cerebral cortex.

Prof Park"The most typical symptom associated with dementia is the cerebral cortical atrophy," the team said. "In patients with hearing loss, as the duration of hearing loss increases, the volume of the cerebral cortex decreases in many areas, including the upper left temporal lobe, which controls hearing and speech perception."

Notably, the research confirmed that the less the degree of atrophy of the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for speech recognition, the better the result of cochlear implant surgery, the team added.

The teams stressed that this study scientifically proved that as the period of hearing loss increases, certain specific brain regions contract, making it difficult to understand speech. The recovery is affected by the degree of atrophy of a particular cerebral cortex.

Professor Park's team has also developed an artificial intelligence (AI) program that analyses the cerebral cortex changes of patients with hearing loss. They have confirmed that tracking the degree of brain atrophy after cochlear implant surgery can help predict the surgical outcome. As a result of the program, the team could predict cochlear implant surgery's outcome within 8.5 percent of the error range using a patient's brain MRI image data.

"This study proved that when hearing loss persists for several years, certain areas of the cerebral cortex contract and change in various directions," Professor Park said. "Hearing loss can lead to dementia in the long term and lower the quality of life of the patient, so if anyone feels uncomfortable in life due to hearing loss, it is necessary to keep the cerebrum healthy by steadily stimulating the auditory cortex through the use of hearing aids."

If hearing aids are not effective, patients can undergo cochlear implants to rehabilitate their hearing successfully, Park added

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