Over the last 10 to 15 years, hearing aids have been breaking through barriers. Hearing aids that were once bulky, expensive, and ineffective are now compact, affordable, and capable of reproducing the subtleties of natural sound.
What has happened is, 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. It’s not just better technology that makes them work, but a fundamental change in the overall approach to research and design – a new approach researchers are calling “brain hearing.” Nevertheless, in sharp contrast to their older ancestors, modern hearing aids are sleek and nearly invisible – and most importantly, they work as they should.
How you can benefit from 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 easier than you think.
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. Enjoying the sounds of life again is the best benefit of them all so that you’re free from the burdens of hearing loss.
So what is brain hearing, exactly?
Did you know 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.
By taking into account the entire hearing process, brain hearing research is leading to the development of some incredible hearing aids. Researchers now know 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.
How do brain-focused hearing aids work?
By maintaining 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:
Spatial recognition – brain hearing preserves the difference in sound between the two ears, allowing for the ability to accurately locate sounds.
Sound filtering – brain hearing preserves the ability to identify and separate relevant information from background noise.
Speech recognition – brain hearing preserves the natural characteristics of speech, making it easier to focus on conversations and switch between speakers.
Sound focusing – brain hearing preserves the ability to focus on relevant sounds and speech, even in noisy environments with abrupt changes in background noise.
Improved hearing aid performance is a result of brain hearing. By changing 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.
Consumers love brain-focused hearing aids
Brain hearing is certainly making a splash. Companies like Oticon, a global leader in the hearing industry, are currently producing brain-focused hearing aids and receiving outstanding feedback. This company reports that while average hearing instrument user satisfaction is 79%, user satisfaction associated with one of its brain-focused hearing aids is 96%.
“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.”