If you struggle with hearing loss, then you already know how difficult it can be to hear in a crowded place. Even if you are a hearing aid user, a crowd requires extra concentration and focus, in order to listen and respond. It is all too common to feel exhausted and drained by trying to discern a speaker or follow a conversation in a noisy restaurant or crowded gathering. However, as it is with muscle building, when you engage in certain brain exercises, your brain can become quicker and stronger, reducing the amount of exertion it takes to listen. In conjunction with hearing aids or other assistive listening devices, certain brain exercises can sharpen how we seek out noise in a noisy setting
Hearing with Our Brain
While we hear with our ears, we actually listen with our brains. Our ears pick up sounds and send them to our brains for processing. When the ears become damaged due to noise, impact, old age, or more than the sounds which our brain receives become limited. This limited amount of hearing requires our brain to work overtime, just to decipher what people are saying to you. When we hear healthy, our brain can rely on established pathways in the auditory cortex. As hearing loss becomes worse, the brain has to scramble for new pathways to fill in the missing information. Over time the way the mind hears becomes stressed. This can ultimately cause cognitive decline, much earlier in the progression of hearing loss than many of us would expect. Several studies indicate that people with even a slight hearing loss may develop cognitive decline earlier than peers with normal hearing. This decline has been found to worsen with every ten decibels of hearing loss.
What You Can Do to Combat Cognitive Decline
Studies find over and over that the use of hearing aids can amplify the specific sounds you struggle with. This can relive the strain on your brain, to fill in the gaps in conversation. However, it takes practice to relearn how to hear even with hearing aids. Most people put off treating their hearing loss on average for seven to ten years before they take the leap to use hearing aids. This means that your brain has to relearn how to hear sounds it may have been missing for almost a decade or more. The return of auditory sounds doesn’t immediately lead to comprehension. Listening requires practice.
Hearing Amongst the Noise
Hearing in a crowd can be difficult for anyone but for people with hearing loss, this is a huge hurdle. Separating the sounds you need to hear from everything else going on requires training when you have hearing loss. A team from Harvard successfully found improvement in test subjects with hearing loss with the use of sound-focused brain training games. The game was played on a tablet and asked users to complete a puzzle based on the location of sounds in a space. The researchers found that in a brief time people’s speech comprehension in a crowded room increased by 25%. Researchers concluded that while brain training games can not completely restore hearing, with the use of hearing aids, these exercises can significantly increase comprehension.
Brain Training Programs
The good news is that you don’t have to attend a class to find expert advice on how to relearn how to hear. Now in the time of Smartphones nearly anyone can use this tool to retrain their ear.
The i-Angel Sound app is free and has many games and exercises to help you retrain your brain. The Auditory Verbal app is another user-friendly program with a diverse group of activities to help you recognize sounds, clearer and quicker, for under $4.
Another popular program is LACE auditory training. This program helps children and adults to practice listening and communication skills online. Daily 20 minute programs help to develop strategies for communicating in difficult listening situations.
Games 4 Hearoes is an auditory training platform that helps people who are just getting used to their new hearing aids or cochlear implants. It can be incredibly helpful as users become refamiliarized with common environmental sounds and vocabulary. This game helps build cognitive dexterity and confidence.
Seeking Treatment for Hearing Loss
To find out more about hearing loss treatment and its benefits, contact us today! Our team can help you find the best solutions to help you hear at your best.