Sonomax Technologies Inc. has been selected by Montréal’s International Laboratory for Brain, Music and Sound Research (BRAMS) to provide miniaturized, real-time, in-ear, digital signal processing devices (DSP) to investigate experience-dependent brain plasticity in humans.
Sonomax’s digital earplugs allow us to change a person’s sound perception, in real time, and to simulate different hearing problems, in and outside of the laboratory,” says Dr. Marc Schönwiesner, a Université de Montréal psychology professor, principal investigator with BRAMS and a specialist in high-resolution brain imaging of the hearing system.
BRAMS is jointly affiliated with the Université de Montréal and McGill University’s Montréal Neurological Institute. Its research is supported by the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council.
Various time and frequency manipulations are performed on the signal pick-up by the microphone and transmitted to the subject’s ear by the receiver, while monitoring changes in brain function and perception with neuroimaging techniques and behavioral tests.
“Sonomax’s technology enables us to conduct tests in a real-world environment, because the devices are wearable, thus giving us experimental control outside of the laboratory,” adds Dr. Schönwiesner.
The technology, along with Dr. Schönwiesner’s research, allows the team to modify a participant’s sound perception over several weeks, for instance by filtering out certain frequencies and change the directions of incoming sounds.
Although the five-year study is in the preliminary stage and its applications in future technology still premature, Dr. Schönwiesner hopes results will lead to new insights into human sound perception and brain plasticity, as well as improved signal processing methods to enhance a listener’s auditory experience.
“The application of Sonomax’s in-ear technology demonstrates the versatility of the platform,” says Nick Laperle, President & CEO Sonomax Technologies Inc. The sale to BRAMS was valued at $125,000 for Sonomax.
“By providing our products to a world-class research institution such as BRAMS, we can only benefit from some of the results that Dr. Schönwiesner will produce in the future as we continue to develop and enhance our leading edge in-ear products,” Mr. Laperle says.
Research findings are available from the Canadian Acoustics Journalunder: Marc Schönwiesner, Jérémie Voix, and Philippe Pango. “Digital earplug for brain plasticity research,” Canadian Acoustics, Canadian Acoustical Association, Toronto, ON, Vol. 37 (No. 3), 2009.