28 July 2009

Brain adapting to hearing damage

The brain starts adapting immediately when the hearing is damaged. The brain tries to compensate for changes throughout life.

Previously, it was believed that the brain was able to adapt only in childhood. But now researchers have established that the adult brain is able to adapt to changes and new needs, as well. This includes changes in hearing.

Brain compensating

A loss of ability to hear high-frequency sounds is one type of hearing loss the brain will try to compensate for. This happens when areas of the brain responsible for processing low-frequency sounds take on some of the functions of the parts of the brain that used to process high-frequency sounds.

Likewise, the brain will attempt to compensate for hearing loss in one ear. Normally, sounds received through the left ear are processed in the right half of the brain and vice versa. But if, for example, the left ear is damaged, the left part of the brain will attempt to compensate for the hearing loss and the resulting consequences for the sound processing.

Early treatment important

The brain compensating does not mean that the hearing loss goes away. It must still be treated. Experts point out the importance of early treatment. The sooner you are treated with a hearing aid, the better your brain is able to adapt.

Sources: Hørelsen; Audio infos (Scandinavian edition)

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