The future has brought a lot of advancement to hearing aids, especially since the last 15 years or so have spurred several advancements in the technology of hearing aids. They used to be costly and bulky and didn’t really work well. Fast forward to today and we see that these models have the ability to work much better, plus they’re not noticeable and they’re more affordable. Modern hearing aids, as opposed to the older models, are sleek and nearly invisible – plus, they work. Sadly, hearing aid technology is advancing faster than hearing aid reputation, and many people continue to associate hearing aids with the ugly, massive contraptions of the past.
The best part about making them work is not just better technology, but a shift in the overall approach to research and design – a new approach researchers are calling “brain hearing.”
How do brain-focused hearing aids work?
Simply put, brain hearing leads to drastically improved hearing aid performance. By modifying only the sounds that the inner ear cannot already hear well, the natural quality of sound is preserved, and the brain is not fatigued and overwhelmed with unnecessary amplification. By preserving a natural, clear signal that is full of detail, brain-focused hearing aids work with the brain’s four key functions used to make sense of the sound it receives:
1. Spatial recognition – brain hearing preserves the difference in sound between the two ears, allowing for the ability to accurately locate sounds.
2. Speech recognition – brain hearing preserves the natural characteristics of speech, making it easier to focus on conversations and switch between speakers.
3. Sound filtering – brain hearing preserves the ability to identify and separate relevant information from background noise.
4. Sound focusing – brain hearing preserves the ability to focus on relevant sounds and speech, even in noisy environments with abrupt changes in background noise.
So what is brain hearing, exactly?
Hearing aids of long ago were designed with the ears in mind, and they amplified all sounds that went right to the brain. What resulted was a huge overload of sensory information that left the brain tired. This, sadly, was the case with the majority of the history of hearing aids.
Today’s models incorporating brain hearing are based on the fact that sound actually occurs in the brain — not the ears. Great news though: researchers now realize that sound processing within the brain is just as important as the amplification of sound in the ear. Same goes for the quality of the signal the brain receives. As such, brain hearing research is leading to the development of some pretty neat hearing aids.
Consumers love brain-focused hearing aids
Companies like Oticon, a global leader in the hearing industry, are currently producing brain-focused hearing aids and receiving outstanding feedback. Oticon, for example, reports that while average hearing instrument user satisfaction is 79%, user satisfaction associated with one of its brain-focused hearing aids is 96%.
“Brain Hearing is a natural evolution of Oticon’s long-standing commitment to putting the needs of people first,” says Søren Nielsen, President of Oticon. “This comes back to our research from our Eriksholm research facility, where we have understood that treating hearing loss is much more than presenting sound through amplification. We have known for some years that the brain has a unique ability to process sound if it receives a robust signal that is full of detail.”
How you can benefit from brain hearing
The first step is to schedule a hearing test with any board-certified audiologist. Next, your audiologist will precisely measure your hearing loss, using that information in the custom programming of your new state-of-the-art hearing aid.
And finally, best of all, you can start enjoying the sounds of life again, free from the burdens of hearing loss courtesy of brain hearing. At this point, you may be asking yourself how you can get your hands (and ears) on this new brain hearing technology. While hearing aids are not off-the-shelf products and need to be professionally fitted and programmed, the process is likely to be a lot simpler than you were thinking. Contact your doctor today.