Large grant for research into hearing impairment

Researchers at Linköping University working in hearing have received a grant of SEK 19.2 million from the Swedish Research Council. The grant is for work in age-related hearing impairment. 

older man holding his hand to his ear to hear betterResearchers at LiU aim to find new treatments for age-related hearing impairment. Photo credit: Andrey Popov

The Swedish Research Council has awarded nearly SEK 140 million in research grants in the field of aging and health. One of the seven grants made in 2017 is to Linköping University and its research into age-related hearing impairment. Surveys suggest that approximately 4 of 10 people over the age of 65 years have impaired hearing, and this is most often age-related. Impaired hearing can now be alleviated with a hearing aid or cochlear implant, but these are not suitable for all patients, and cannot restore normal hearing.

“Our main aim is to see whether we can find new treatments for age-related hearing impairment, and obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms that lead to the condition. It’s not just the hearing impairment in itself that is a problem: it can have other consequences for people who are affected. Hearing impairment increases the risk of developing dementia, depression and social isolation. Calculations suggest that if we could prevent all hearing impairment from the age of 55 years onwards, this would prevent 20% of cases of Alzheimer disease,” says Anders Fridberger, professor at the Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and head of the project.Anders FridbergerAnders Fridberger Photo credit: Thor Balkhed

The research project builds on previous research within cognitive hearing science carried out at the Linnaeus Centre HEAD. Co-applicants are Jerker Rönnberg, Mary Rudner, Thomas Lunner and Stefan Stenfelt, all of whom work at the Linnaeus Centre HEAD. The research grant from the Swedish Research Council is for the years 2017-2022.

“This research grant is highly significant for us. Long-term support enables us as researchers to take on rather more intractable research projects, and to take higher scientific risks. This is extremely important if we want to make true advances,” says Anders Fridberger.

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