The Brain and Hearing

by Dr. Nimet Adam

Recently I watched a program on PBS called Brain Revolution. The program starts with Dr. Michael Merzenich, one of the pioneers of the cochlear implant, speaking about how when we understand the brain we understand ourselves better. It is no surprise to me that a lot of the research for understanding neuroplasticity (the brain can be reshaped and remodeled) came from the outcomes of patients that received a cochlear implant. The research shows that patients who were heavily reliant on visual cues to help them hear as a result of developing hearing loss were engaging the auditory cortex portion of their brain using visual stimuli. This is the brain re-wiring to help when there is a deficit. The program goes on to explain that it is never too late to make significant positive changes to the brain. We know that we should start working on maintaining our brain health in our 50’s but the encouraging news is that even with Mild Cognitive Decline (MCD) brain health can be improved.

Did you know that treating a hearing loss correctly is one of the most effective ways that we can preserve brain health? Hearing is tied to the tenets of learning what we call AMPS:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Processing Rate
  • Sequencing

AMP or Amplifier is what hearing does for the brain. Hearing allows us to pay attention so we can take the information and store it in our memory (you can’t remember something you haven’t heard). Good hearing allows us to take the information and process it correctly in the brain for future reference -sequencing and retrieval.

Treating hearing loss (one of the strongest comorbidities for dementia) is taking care of your brain health. That in addition to lifestyle changes such as a healthy diet, exercise, proper sleep, stress reduction, new learning and social interactions can all have a profound impact on the brain.

Your audiologists at Hearing Partners understand the importance of brain health. All the audiologists recently attended a training and certification course in cognitive hearing science to be able to further understand the relationship between hearing and the brain and how to evaluate and treat those patients that are starting to show signs of MCD. We believe in being proactive and preventative and to empower our patients with the knowledge and tools to take care of their brain health.

If you have questions or concerns and would like to participate in our newly developed Functional Assessment, contact us for more information.

Hearing Partners of South Florida

Delray – 561-638-6530          Boynton – 561-736-6002         Jupiter – 561-888-7260

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Welcome to Hearing Partners of South Florida! We are an independently owned, full service audiology practice focused on providing the highest quality of hearing care to each of our patients. 

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