If the average American knew there was a new treatment that increased health, mood, and improved brain function they'd be lining up. Believe it or not, research has tied these exact benefits to hearing aid use. But despite the facts many people with hearing loss still don't understand the importance of improved hearing health. The latest study on hearing aid benefits might just change that. This study showed improved mental performance not after years of hearing aid use, but after two weeks.
Though your ears play a critical part in delivering sound to your brain, most hearing happens inside the brain. That's why hearing loss has been shown to cause problems with concentration and brain function. It is thought the lack of sound stimulation in the brain increases the likelihood of brain atrophy within the hearing brain. In addition, there is something often referred to as cognitive overload. Cognitive overload happens when a person with hearing loss has to strain to understand and communicate. Just as reading, “prtct yr hrng” requires more concentration than reading, “protect your hearing”, missing sounds require greater concentration from someone with hearing loss. People with hearing loss compensate for missing words by straining to focusing on sentence context and syntax. This exhausting analysis leads to cognitive overload.
A study conducted at The University of Texas showed improved brain function, perhaps due to lessening of cognitive overload, after two weeks of hearing aid use. The study, conducted by Jamie Desjardins, PhD, was run on a group of people in their 50's and 60's with sensorineural hearing loss. The participants of this study had never used hearing aids before. Prior studies have shown that use of hearing aids can increase concentration and actual brain matter, but this study was able to show positive benefits occur rather quickly and dramatically.
The study looked not just at working memory but response times and ability to pay attention. After two weeks of hearing aid use participants increased their ability to increase word recall or what is known as working memory. In addition response times increased as well as overall ability to concentrate. This study is great news for people with hearing loss. Not only because this is a positive way to combat cognitive decline due to hearing loss, but because today's hearing aid manufacturers have designed their hearing aids to work with the hearing brain. Not only have today's hearing aids turned a corner in technology that allows for use with background noise, in connecting with other technologies, and with producing more natural sounds, but hearing aids also have been designed to work more organically with your brain. Oticon has actually trademarked the term, BrainHearing™. It's pretty cool that today's research on hearing loss and available advanced technology for hearing loss have converged to provide people with some of the best options available for treating changes in hearing.
If you'd like to learn more about what hearing aids can do for you or even to take the latest hearing aid for a test drive, contact your hearing health provider. If you need help finding a hearing health provider click HERE to be connected with the largest network of trusted hearing health professionals in the nation!
University of Texas at El Paso. "Hearing aids improve memory, speech." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/01/160128155757.htm (accessed March 24, 2016).