You will never forget getting your first car. The feeling of independence was unprecedented. At any moment you could get in touch with some friends and go wherever you wanted. For many, getting their first hearing aids is a similar experience.
Why would getting your first hearing aids compare to getting your first car? There are some subtle reasons why having hearing aids will help you make sure you don’t lose your independence. As it turns out, your hearing has a profound effect on your brain’s functionality.
To illustrate how efficiently your brain will respond to change, consider this: Following the identical way as you always have, you set off for work. You soon find that there is an car accident blocking your way. How would you react? Do you give up and go back home? Unless you’re searching for an excuse not to go to work, most likely not. You would most likely quickly seek an alternate route. For as long as your primary route was closed this new route would turn into your new routine. If this new route ended up being even more efficient, you would substitute the old one with it.
When a normal brain function is blocked, your brain does the same thing. The name neuroplasticity defines the brain’s process of rerouting along different pathways.
Mastering new abilities such as playing an instrument, or learning a new language are carried out by neuroplasticity. It also helps you build healthy habits. Activities that were at one time challenging become automatic as physical modifications to the brain slowly adapt to match the new pathways. Neuroplasticity can be just as good at causing you to forget things you already know as it is at helping you learn new skills.
Neuroplasticity And Loss of Hearing
Hearing loss is the perfect example of how neuroplasticity has a negative impact on your day-to-day life. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways inside your brain will quickly begin to get re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to research conducted by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be doing. This reorganization of your brain function explains the relationship between loss of hearing and cognitive decline.
If you have loss of hearing, the areas of your brain responsible for functions, like vision or touch, can solicit the under-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. The available resources in your brain which are used to process sound are decreased and so is your ability to comprehend speech.
So, if you are constantly asking people to repeat themselves, hearing loss has already begun. Additionally, it might be a more significant issue than damage to your inner ear, it’s probable that the untreated loss of hearing has caused your brain structure to change.
Can Hearing Aids Help You
As with most things, there is both a negative and positive angle to this awesome ability. Neuroplasticity may possibly make your hearing loss worse, but it also enhances the performance of hearing aids. You can definitely make the most of advanced hearing aid technology because of the brain’s ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. As the hearing aids stimulate the parts of the brain that handle hearing loss, they stimulate mental growth and development.
The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. It found that having a set of hearing aids reduced cognitive decline in people with hearing loss. The study, titled Self-Reported Hearing Loss: Hearing Aids and Cognitive Decline in Elderly Adults: A 25-year Study, observed over three thousand adults age 65 and older over a 25 year period. What the researchers discovered was that the rate of cognitive decline was higher in those with hearing loss compared to those with healthy hearing. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss displayed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.
The best part of this study is that we can validate what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will coordinate functions according to the current need and the amount of stimulus it receives. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”
Maintaining a Youthful Brain
The brain is powerful and can adapt itself at any time regardless of how old you are. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can speed up mental decline and that this decline can be decreased or even averted by using hearing aids.
Hearing aids are not simple over-the-counter sound amplification devices, they are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function despite any health issues by pushing yourself to accomplish challenging new activities, being active socially, and practicing mindfulness among other techniques.
Hearing aids are a crucial part of guaranteeing your quality of life. Becoming isolated and withdrawn is common for people with hearing loss. Simply by investing in a pair of hearing aids, you can ensure that you remain active and independent. After all, you want your brain to continue experiencing stimulation and processing the sounds you hear so it will stay as young as you feel!