Researchers test hearing by measuring pupil dilation

The study could help to develop a method of assessing hearing in those who cannot provide direct responses

US neuroscientists have demonstrated that hearing can be assessed by monitoring pupil dilation.

The research, which was published in Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology, could be used to develop a method for testing hearing in patients where direct responses are not possible – such as babies and adults suffering from a stroke or other illness.

The University of Oregon scientists monitored changes in the pupil size of 31 adults using eye tracking technology.

They were observed performing a hearing test while staring at an object on a monitor.

Pupil dilation corresponded with their replies to whether or not a tone was heard.

The study was inspired after the lead author, Avinash Singh Bala, observed changes in the pupils of barn owls following unexpected noises.

Researchers are investigating whether an eye-focused hearing examination could produce comparable results to traditional tone-based hearing tests.

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