Hearing, Listening and Your Brain

hand-to-ear“There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening,” writes Woodbury, N.Y. audiologist Diana Callesano in the January/February issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. “Listening incorporates a variety of cognitive skills that hearing alone does not require.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Neurotone’s LACE (Listening and Communication Enhancement) training was designed to sharpen up cognitive skills like memory and attention so that people with hearing loss and those with hearing aids can get the most out of the sounds they do hear.

Now there’s another reason to take LACE aural rehabilitation training: preserving brain function. Research is now suggesting that hearing loss, if left unaddressed, can lead to loss of cognition. Callesano explains how hearing loss taxes the brain and drains cognitive resources:

The role of memory, attention, and other cognitive resources is generally neglected when addressing impacts of hearing loss. But these cognitive skills play a huge role in how we hear, what we hear, and how quickly we can keep up during conversation. When an individual has hearing loss, the sound that reaches the brain is degraded.

This distorted sound is what leads to filling in the blanks and guessing what other people are talking about. However, the strain on the brain doesn’t end here. To compensate for these distorted signals, the brain reallocates its resources by placing a higher demand on cognitive skills, such as memory and attention, to understand and keep up with conversation. … This is why most people with hearing loss are tired after long conversations: because their brains are working harder!

How might LACE help this situation? By building up the cognitive skills associated with listening, LACE  training makes it easier for people with degraded hearing to keep up in conversation.

“We cannot leave out the benefits of aural rehabilitation,” Callesano writes, adding that no matter how great a person’s hearing aids are, there will always be situations where it’s just plain hard to hear—situations where sharper listening skills can make the difference. Her conclusion? “Properly-fitted hearing aids and aural rehabilitation equips people to tackle their hearing needs in a variety of situations.”  Read more in the digital edition of Hearing Loss Magazine (turn to page 19).

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