24 Nov Hearing is Thinking – The Importance of Brain Hearing
Your ears collect sound which then travels to your brain’s hearing centre. Your brain must then select which sounds to focus on and listen to and which sounds are irrelevant and should be filtered out. From here, the brain links the sound to your memory and emotions to turn it into
By stimulating your ears with good hearing, your brain is exercised and more likely to stay fit throughout your life. This helps avoid many other health problems and means that hearing health is brain health.
If your brain doesn’t get the sound information it needs, you’ll find it more difficult to
understand what people are saying and what’s happening around you. You may start to notice:
- People keep mumbling,
- You miss the point in their stories,
- Or you can’t hear the TV,
- You feel tired or stressed from socialising,
- You get Confused about conversations, or
- You would rather stay at home.
These hearing problems may seem small at first but build up over time so that there isn’t enough sound information coming to your brain from your ears, or the quality of that information is poor. The brain gets out of practice and effectively ‘forgets’ what sounds mean. This makes it much harder for the brain to orient itself in your surroundings – which then makes it harder to focus on what’s important and forces you to work harder just to keep up. Listening starts to take a lot more effort & becomes tiring as the brain struggles to recognise sounds from distorted sound information while filling in the gaps by remembering and guessing.
Devoting so much mental load just to hearing means there is less mental capacity left over for other things (like remembering, understanding others and quickly coming up with a response) so it becomes harder for all the different parts of your brain to make sense of everything else in your life.
If the brain’s access to sound is limited by poor or inadequate treatment of hearing loss – serious life problems can emerge:
- Accelerated cognitive decline: Increased mental load, lack of stimulation, and reorganised brain functionality are linked to accelerated cognitive decline, which affects your ability to remember, learn, concentrate, and make decisions.
- Social isolation and feelings of depression: People with untreated hearing loss may reach a stage where they avoid social gatherings because they are
unable to cope with complex sound environments. This increases the risk of loneliness, social isolation, and feelings of depression.
- Poor balance and fall-related injuries: Untreated hearing loss can affect people’s balance, which increases the risk of fall-related injuries three-fold.
Maybe its time for a hearing test….