Hearing Aids and Brain Training, Part 1

1. How does wearing a hearing aid affect your brain?

Treating hearing loss is often thought of in terms of providing amplification. How can sound be increased so listening is easier and speech is better? Amplification is provided through hearing aids or hearing devices, but testing, configuration, and supply can be complicated.

Why is that?

The Better Hearing Institute gets to the heart of the matter: “We don’t really hear in our ears; we hear in our brain.” What you hear, how you listen, and how sound is processed in your brain are all connected. Each person’s hearing loss and adaptation is unique to them. This is true even in people with similar levels of hearing loss.

2. How do audiologists go about selecting a hearing device? How does REM?

In order to determine the best aid and best settings, an audiologist will try to determine the most efficient aid-brain interface. They will test your hearing, ask you questions about your past, determine the environment in which you’ll be using the aids the most.

REM chooses the hearing instrument based on what the brain needs, what the auditory processing centers need to process speech and information. We test for both hearing and retention in silence and noise, identification of speech details (such as consonants and vowels), and how well you can locate sound in space.

3. Listening vs hearing

That’s what audiologists do. There’s training you can do as well.

The Better Hearing Institute article linked to earlier goes on to define listening vs hearing:

“Good listening skills are one of the components essential for effective communication. As technically advanced as modern hearing aids might be, they alone cannot produce the listening skills needed for communication. There are a number of reasons for this. For example, to be a good listener, one must integrate a number of skills including attention, understanding, and remembering.”

By practicing listening skills and comprehension, you’re in fact training your brain.

Once you get hearing aids, wear them every day, be confident in engaging in social situations. Communicate with people. Involve yourself. Don’t withdraw. Engage in conversation, as boldly as you can.
Next post we’ll be discussing the specific technology of brain training, and we’ll touch more on what you can do to strengthen your hearing.