Remember getting your very first car? How amazing was that sense of freedom? At any moment you could call some friends and go wherever you wanted. Many people who suffer from hearing loss have this same type of experience when they get their first pair of hearing aids.
How could getting your first pair of hearing aids be like getting your first car? It’s not only the well known reasons for using hearing aids, but also the subtle ones that can restore your independent lifestyle. As it turns out, your hearing has a profound effect on your brain’s functionality.
The following example illustrates how your brain reacts to changes: You’re on the way to your job, following the same route you always do. You soon discover that there is an accident stopping you from going through. What would be your response to this problem? Would you just give up and go back home? Unless of course you’re searching for an excuse not to go to work, most likely not. Seeking out a different route is more than likely what you would choose to do. As long as your primary route was closed this new route would become your new everyday routine. If the new route ended up being more efficient, you would replace the old one with it.
The same thing occurs inside your brain when a “normal” function is blocked or else not working. Alternative pathways are forged in the brain due to a function defined as neuroplasticity.
Neuroplasticity can assist you in learning new languages, or in learning new skills such as martial arts or developing healthy habits. Tasks that were once-challenging come to be automatic as physical changes inside the brain gradually adapt to match the new pathways. Even though neuroplasticity is usually helpful for learning new things, it’s also just as good at causing you to you forget what you know.
Hearing Loss And Neuroplasticity
A perfect example of how neuroplasticity can have a negative impact is hearing loss. As explained in The Hearing Review, The pathways in your brain will immediately begin to get re-purposed if they quit processing sound according to research done by the University of Colorado. This is something you might not want it to be working on. The connection between loss of hearing and cognitive decline can be explained by this.
If you have hearing loss, the parts of your brain in charge of functions, including vision or touch, can solicit the less-utilized pathways of the brain responsible for hearing. This decreases the brain’s available resources for processing sound, and it weakens our capability of understanding speech.
So, if you find yourself saying “what was that?” regularly, you already have hearing loss. And even more important is the reality that your brain might already be starting to restructure.
How Hearing Aids Can Help You
This ability of the brain has a positive and a negative. Neuroplasticity may make your loss of hearing worse, but it also elevates the performance of hearing aids. You can really make the most of current hearing aid technology thanks to your brain’s amazing ability to regenerate tissue and reroute neural paths. Since the hearing aids activate the parts of the brain that handle loss of hearing, they stimulate mental growth and development.
The American Geriatrics Society published a long term study, in fact. Cognitive decline was reduced in people with hearing aids, according to this study. 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. The study showed that people with hearing loss had a higher rate of cognitive decline. However, participants that used hearing aids to correct their hearing loss showed no difference in the rate of cognitive decline as compared to those with normal hearing.
The most useful part of this research is that we can verify what we already understand about neuroplasticity: the brain will organize functions according to your need and the amount of stimulus it is given. To put it another way, you need to, “use it or lose it.”
Having a Youthful Brain
In short, the brain is versatile and can change itself substantially no matter what your age or stage in life. You should also take into consideration that hearing loss can hasten mental deterioration and that this decline can be reduced or even prevented by using hearing aids.
Hearing aids are sophisticated hearing enhancement technology, not just over-the-counter amplifiers. According to leading brain plasticity expert Dr. Michael Merzenich, you can enhance your brain function despite any health issues by pushing yourself to complete challenging new activities, being active socially, and practicing mindfulness amongst other strategies.
To guarantee your quality of life, hearing aids are a must have. Those who have loss of hearing may become withdrawn or isolated. You can be sure to remain active and independent by getting a pair of hearing aids. Keep in mind that if you want your brain to stay as young as you feel it needs to continue processing sound and receiving stimulation.