Narrator: This is Science Today. The cochlea is a snail-shaped tunnel in the inner ear devoted to hearing. Inside are thousands of tiny hair cells which convert vibrating sound waves into an electrical impulse, ultimately converting to sound in the brain. Jan Larky, an audiologist at the University of California, San Francisco, says for someone with profound hearing loss, electrical impulses are not transmitted normally due to damaged hair cells.
Larky: Even with very, very high level sounds they don't hear them and what they do hear is distorted.
Narrator: Cochlear implants are medical devices which have helped such patients for years by providing the impulse needed to signal the brain.
Larky: In the past, it's been available to people with only the most profound degrees of hearing loss. Now we're looking to expand the criteria so that people with severe hearing loss, poor clarity of words may be a candidate for this device and they should contact their local implant center for perhaps an evaluation or at least a screening.
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.