Anu Sharma

United States

Anu Sharma Ph.D. is Professor and Associate Chair in the Department of Speech Language and Hearing Science and Fellow in the Institute for Cognitive Science and in the Center for Neuroscience at University of Colorado, Boulder. Her research on neuroplasticity in hearing loss has been funded by the United States National Institutes of Health for over two decades. She is fortunate to have given over 200 invited presentations and keynotes spanning six continents. She has given the Carhart Memorial Lecture at the American Auditory Society, the Marion Downs Lecture twice at the American Academy of Audiology and the Ted Evans Lecture at the British Society of Audiology.

One of the most remarkable aspects of the brain is neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to adapt in response to change. A basic tenet of neuroplasticity is that the brain will re-organize following sensory deprivation.  Hearing loss, which is one of the most common chronic health conditions, results in both structural and functional changes in the brain. Adults and children with hearing loss who receive intervention with hearing aids and cochlear implants provide a platform to examine the trajectories and characteristics of deprivation-induced and experience-dependent plasticity in the central auditory system. Cross-modal neuroplasticity is another form of cortical re-organization associated with hearing loss. For example, in patients with hearing loss, auditory cortical areas are recruited and repurposed by visual and somatosensory modalities. We see evidence of cross-modal plasticity in children with bilateral cochlear implants, single-sided deafness and adults with mild-moderate age-related hearing loss demonstrating the flexible and dynamic nature of this plasticity. Cortical re-organization in age-related hearing loss may also result in decreased cognitive reserve and may be associated with neurocognitive decline.  Importantly, if cross-modal plasticity is harnessed appropriately, or reversed with appropriate hearing treatments, it can result in good clinical outcomes coinciding with gains in cognitive performance and speech perception. By harnessing neuroplasticity, we are developing brain-based biomarkers. These biomarkers can help clinicians determine when a patient should receive intervention, what kind of intervention or rehabilitation would be ideal, and may offer the ability to monitor how well a chosen intervention or rehabilitation method is working. Biomarkers may help us to predict which patients may perform well with hearing aids or cochlear implants—and, importantly, which patients will need additional support in the form of personalized aural rehabilitation programs or brain training.  Brain-based biomarkers may eventually help revolutionize how we treat and manage patients with hearing loss.

  • Concertzaal (plenary)

    The Rewiring Brain: Harnessing Neuroplasticity to Enhance Clinical Outcomes in Hearing Loss

    Date: 06 Sep 2024Time: 08:15 - 09:00 CET
    University Of Colorado Boulder