Posted on Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Hearing Brain Connection

Man looks at cellphone

Despite popular perception, hearing isn't something that happens only in your ears. Your brain plays a huge part in decoding sounds. In fact, when sounds are not present parts of the brain can stop working. That's why simply increasing sounds--which is what hearing aids used to do--didn't fully solve the problem of helping people to recognize speech, especially with a noisy background. So what do today's hearing aids do differently?

As a recent article on Science Daily points out, "Prolonged exposure to loud noise alters how the brain processes speech, potentially increasing the difficulty in distinguishing speech sounds, according to neuroscientists."

Noise induced hearing loss happens when hair cells within the inner ear are permanently damaged. This damage is not isolated to the ears but impacts the brain. This impact can make it more difficult for a brain to decipher sounds. That's why manufacturers like Oticon have developed advanced technology that not only help the ears but help the brain. As Oticon's President Peer Lauristen points out, “When consumers understand that hearing happens in the brain and has the potential to impact overall health, including cognitive function, hearing instrument choice becomes a health care-driven decision instead of a lifestyle or technology choice."

Oticon has dubbed this technology advancement as BrainHearing™. They describe this approach to technology as being better because, "Our brain processes and interprets the sounds our ears detect. The fewer details of sound the brain receives, the harder it has to work to make sense of it. Oticon provides better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest signal to decode."

This BrainHearing™ technology relies on, "Voice Aligned Compression (VAC+) fitting rationale with Soft Speech Booster improves the audibility of soft sounds without the need to turn up the volume." This technology is only possible because of greater processing speeds or Oticon's New Inium Sense Platform.

Now that you know a little bit about what makes this technology capable of helping the brain, here's a quick overview of some of the hearing aids Oticonmanufacturers that include these advanced components:

Alta2 According to the manufacturer, "Alta2 offers our best sound quality, reduces listening effort and provides the highest level of personal performance. Using our most advanced Inium Sense processing platform, audiological features work together continuously to provide better hearing with less effort."

Nera2Nera features advanced BrainHearing™ technology for exceptional performance in a mid-level instrument. These audiological features work together continuously to provide better hearing with less effort.

Ria2 "The BrainHearing™ technology in Ria2 helps users feel more comfortable in challenging environments by mapping the world around them."

Nera2 Pro TI Research tells us that successful sound therapy requires treatment sounds that the patient responds to in a positive way. No brain works the same and some patients require sounds that are more dynamic or have a unique quality to them. This is why having more sounds makes sense.

If you'd like to learn more about these advanced hearing technologies, see 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!

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