Stephen G. Lomber
Canada Research Chair in Brain Plasticity and Development
Tier 1 - January 2015 – January 2022
Natural Sciences and Engineering
Office: SSC 9232
Lab: SSC 9214
Phone: 519 661-2111 ext.24110
Cerebral Systems Lab
Enhancing Brain Plasticity to Improve Hearing
Hearing loss profoundly affects a person’s quality of life. It is socially isolating, restricts career opportunities, and hastens cognitive decline in later life. In Canada, hearing loss is one of the most common birth defects, chronic disabilities, and complaints of the elderly. Yet little is known about what happens to the brain as a consequence of deafness.
Dr. Stephen G. Lomber, Canada Research Chair in Brain Plasticity and Development, studies how the brain changes after hearing loss in childhood or adulthood. Specifically, he studies the regions of the brain that process sounds in individuals who can hear, and the changes that take place in these areas following hearing loss.
The brain’s ability to change is known as “plasticity.” Plastic changes in the brain help deaf individuals make better use of their remaining senses, such as sight and touch. Understanding the natural limits of brain plasticity will help researchers develop methods to overcome them, and will promote increased brain plasticity. In turn, this could lead to better hearing devices, such as cochlear implants. Cochlear implants are extremely effective at providing sound sensations to deaf individuals, and can also make it possible for them to understand speech.
A better understanding of how the plasticity of the cerebral cortex changes after cochlear implantation could make the implants even more effective and lead to greater success in improving hearing in both children and the elderly.
Source: Canada Research Chairs program, Government of Canada