Hearing aid technology is progressing faster than hearing aid reputation, and many people continue to associate hearing aids with the cumbersome contraptions of the past. Hearing aids have certainly come a long way over the last 10 to 15 years. Hearing aids that were once bulky, expensive, and ineffective are now discreet, affordable, and capable of reproducing the subtleties of natural sound.
The issue is, in sharp contrast to their dodgy ancestors, modern hearing aids are sleek and nearly invisible – and most importantly, they work. It turns out that the key to making them operate is not just better technology, but a deep-down change in the overall approach to research and design – a new approach researchers are calling “brain hearing.”
How do brain-focused hearing aids work?
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. Simply put, brain hearing leads to much better 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:
Speech recognition – brain hearing preserves the natural characteristics of speech, making it easier to focus on conversations and switch between speakers.
Sound filtering – brain hearing preserves the ability to identify and separate relevant information from background noise.
Sound focusing – brain hearing preserves the ability to focus on relevant sounds and speech, even in noisy environments with abrupt changes in background noise.
Spatial recognition – brain hearing preserves the difference in sound between the two ears, allowing for the ability to accurately locate sounds.
Consumers love brain-focused hearing aids
Companies like Oticon report that while average hearing instrument user satisfaction is 79%, user satisfaction associated with one of its brain-focused hearing aids is 96%. This global leader in the hearing industry is currently producing brain-focused hearing aids and receiving outstanding feedback.
“BrainHearing 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.”
So what is brain hearing, exactly?
The good news is that researchers have finally figured out that the processing of sound within the brain, and quality of the signal the brain receives, are just as important as the amplification of sound in the ear. By considering the entire hearing process, brain hearing research is leading to the development of some incredible hearing aids.
Brain hearing begins with the simple acknowledgment that sound actually occurs in the brain, and not in the ears. Traditional hearing aids, designed with the ears in mind, tend to amplify any and all sounds, pushing through a mass of noise directly to the brain. The result is terrible sound quality that causes the brain to become overwhelmed and fatigued. And that, unfortunately, sums up the majority of the history of hearing aids.
How you can benefit from brain hearing
Your first call to action 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.
You may be wondering 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 easier than you think.
It’s time to start enjoying the sounds of life again, free from the burdens of hearing loss courtesy of brain hearing.