We hear with our brain.
Sound is one thing. Making sense of sound is everything. The sounds your ears receive are sent to your brain, which translates them into meaning. A hearing loss leaves your brain to fill in the gaps that you don’t hear, which increases effort and cognitive load on the brain. Frustration and fatigue and unfortunately, an increased risk of accelerated cognitive decline results. (see Livingston et al, 2017, The Lancet)
Even though sounds may be audible, or loud enough, they can be misunderstood. Therefore, detection is a very different function from processing. Audibility, is the ability to detect sounds, and is the function of our ears. Audition, is the ability to make sense out of what is being detected, and takes place not in the ears, but within the central auditory cortex of our brains. To hear well, both processes must work together, and as an integrated system. therefore, good hearing isn’t simply a question of making sounds loud enough. It’s about helping your brain understand the sounds you hear.
The basic principle of “BrainHearing”, a term coined by leading manufacturer Oticon, is to support your brain by giving it the opportunity it needs to derive meaning from sound – instead of overloading it by turning up the volume. Stimulating your brain with expertly designed and fitted hearing technology reduces the strain on your brain (ie. reduces the cognitive load) leaving you less tired. It also gives you a more natural and pleasant soundscape experience.
How the brain transforms the way we hear
There are four fundamental functions the brain carries out to make sense of the sound.
1. Localising - orienting to position of sounds, requiring both ears
2. Differentiating sound sources
3. Focussing on what is important
4. Recognising each sound and making sense of them
All of this happens simultaneously in the brain when we have normal hearing. Technological features and super fast sound processing chip platforms now available from the 5 world-leading manufacturers offers those with a hearing impairment the brain the opportunity it needs to perform likewise.
This is the challenge for every major hearing aid manufacturer. To facilitate this complex brain function and improve that voice we want to listen to above all others, even when there is competing noise, when that noise is changing and when that 'noise' consists of others voices. It is a constant technological dilemma because the brain is so sophisticated and performs miraculous tasks seamlessly. But we believe that it is our role to custom design the technology available in the best possible ways to provide the opportunity for this neural enhancement to take place - because life is just better that way!
HEARING IS PERSONAL
Hearing is one of our most important senses. It is the fibre that connects us as individuals and communities. Understanding your hearing is the first step toward better hearing and making healthy decisions that support your cognitive potential.