Brain training and hearing aids

Your brain is amazing! Its ability to adapt and change is termed as ‘neuroplasticity’. These physical changes can occur as the result of an injury or disease, as well as learning, maturity and development. The process of neuroplasticity occurs throughout our lives and has a specific impact on our hearing.

An EEG (electroencephalogram) records brain activity via small sensors attached to the scalp. It picks up the electrical signals produced when brain cells send messages to each other and is a non-invasive way to assess neuroplasticity in patients with hearing loss.

The EEG enables the audiologist to see the brain’s response to sound. As a result, they can measure the effect of listening effort and social-emotional change on the brain, as well as the cognitive function of hearing loss.

Repurposing the Brain

‘Repurposing’ or ‘upcycling’ are often associated with furniture and clothing, but did you know that as we lose our hearing, the brain repurposes the areas associated with the sense? In the brain, this isn’t a positive thing. The areas of the brain responsible for hearing are also needed for balance and memory, which is why hearing loss can affect both of these functions, too. The good news is that this negative effect can be reversed by treating hearing loss.

It was previously thought that the brain ‘repurposed’ its pathways associated with hearing to other senses. However, recent studies have proven that this is not the case.

‘Repurposing’ doesn’t just occur with complete deafness. It has been observed in adults with mild hearing loss (the first stage of a diagnosed hearing loss). During tests, the auditory centre of the brain demonstrated reduced response to sound and showed that listening effort moved to a different area of the brain. An increased reliance on vision in order to hear was shown, which explains why people with hearing loss often need to be looking at a person they are listening to in order to hear them better.

The brain’s ability to ‘repurpose’ its pathways can be seen within three months after the onset of hearing loss. The evidence for treating hearing loss quickly and effectively with a professionally programmed hearing aid has never been more evident.

An audiologist is more than someone who provides you with a hearing instrument; they also help you to exercise your ‘brain muscle’.

At Online Hearing Care, we offer a full end-to-end audiology service from the comfort of your home. Order a home hearing test today to get the process started. If you have a recent audiogram, you can simply shop the range. The Phonak hearing aids we provide are some of the best devices available today. For assistance, please get in touch. Email [email protected] or call 0800 054 1138.

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