UHEAL: Uncovering Hidden Hearing Loss

The UHEAL project is a collaborative synergy project supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation with the aim to understand, describe, and diagnose hidden hearing loss in human patients.

Exposure to loud sounds has been shown to produce a damage to auditory nerve fibers that can go undetected in standard audiometric hearing tests. Although audiometric thresholds may be unrevealing, neuropathic damage is suspected to cause problems with listening in daily life noisy environments. Hidden hearing loss is a progressive condition that may affect even young listeners, but its nature and extent in human patients are unkown.

Today, our primary knowledge of this disorder comes from cellular physiology and evidence of cochlear neuropathy in humans is missing. The goal of the UHEAL synergy project is to tackle this challenge by combining cellular physiology of the ear with clinical audiology and non-invasive MR imaging. The project combines expertise within these different fields with the goal to develop MRI-based imaging techniques to detect auditory nerve damages, to investigate the consequences of these damages in auditory brain processing and behavior, and to evaluate measures for diagnosis of cochlear neuropathy in humans.


The partners of the UHEAL project are:



The Hearing Systems group at the Technical University of Denmark (DTU). The research of the Hearing Systems group is focused on auditory signal processing and perception, psychoacoustics, speech perception, audio-visual speech, audiology and objective measures of auditory function in normal and impaired hearing.

The Massachusetts Eye and Ear at Havard Medical School (HMS). Mass. Eye and Ear is the largest vision and hearing research centre in the world. Research in the Department of Otolanryngology reflects the synthesis of biomedical engineering, neuroscience, and cellular biology.


The Danish Research Centre for Magnetic Resonance (DRCMR) at Copenhagen University Hospital Hvidovre. The DRCMR is one of the leading research centres in Europe within the field of biomedical MRI. A highly profiled international research team translates the latest advances in MRI to examine the brain's function, metabolism and structure.