Many of us take hearing for granted, but humans are unique in the way we interpret noises from our environment: we are able to utilize cognitive processes (knowledge, memory and intelligence) with the sensory input we receive. This allows us to communicate, learn and share thoughts and ideas. When treating hearing loss, audiologists’ understanding of the interaction between hearing and cognition plays a crucial role in providing patients with a reliable and effective solution.
Our peripheral and central nervous systems extract and interpret information from multiple, competing sounds in our listening environment, assigning meaning to what might otherwise be considered background clutter. When you suffer from hearing loss, your ability to gauge the meaning of a sound that has been separated from its physical source is compromised, leading to confusion and frustration – proof of the strong correlation between hearing and cognition.
Studies show that patients with poor hearing rely on acquired knowledge in order to fill in the missing blanks. This allows those who wear hearing devices to utilize cognitive reserves in order to fill in the blanks when auditory signals are at a minimum. When hearing is compromised, our cognitive system works harder to interpret sensory input data increasing attention, boosting short-term memory and applying previously acquired knowledge to help make sense of the world around us.
Aural rehabilitation can help by training the brain to improve cognition. Simply put, providing the best sound quality delivered at the best possible signal-to-noise ratio eases the cognitive burden, improving the ability to hear while reducing the effects of cognitive decline such as dementia. Amplification features, including directionality, binaural amplification, FM systems and wireless connectivity all translate to improved sound quality and a lower cognitive burden. In short, the easier it is to listen, the better our ability to hear.
To learn more about your hearing health, schedule an appointment with our board-certified audiology team today by calling (800) 555-5923.