When we as hearing care providers think about music, generally the detrimental effects come to mind. But Frank Russo, professor of psychology and director of the Science of Music, Auditory Research, and Technology Lab (SMART Lab) is bringing to light possible positive effects. Russo is conducting a study that explores a new way to cope with hearing loss in noisy environments: studying music.
In an interview with National Public Radio (NPR), Russo says understanding speech in noise is a top complaint among older adults with hearing loss.
“The complaint often is, ‘I hear just fine when I’m speaking to someone one-on-one, but when I’m in a crowded situation — if I’m at a party, if I’m at bus station, if I’m in a mall — speech in noise becomes very problematic,’” he relays.
Another article cited by NPR tells us research has found that “aging musicians fare better than non-musicians when it comes to distinguishing speech from noise, even when their overall hearing is no better than that of non-musicians.”
There are three different groups of elderly adults with no musical experience in Russo’s study that either:
- Join a choir and learn to sing;
- Listen to music in an appreciation course;
- Or have no musical intervention
Everyone in the study takes before and after lab evaluations that include speech-in-noise tests. You can read more about Russo’s work here.
A participant in the study equated the activities they do — over 10 weeks, with one two-hour rehearsal per week — to “brain boot camp.” We do something similar when you are fit with hearing technology.
Retraining Your Brain
Although hearing loss is most commonly considered an inner-ear problem, it’s actually the brain that performs several functions simultaneously to process sound. It uses your ears to help orient body position, focuses attention on sounds you want to hear, recognizes sounds, and separates relevant information from competing noise. Advances in hearing aid technology support your brain by supplementing these natural processes for clearer, more accurate, and overall better hearing.
Because we hear with our brains, something called aural rehabilitation is essential to your hearing success. Aural rehabilitation is the process of helping someone effectively adjust to and manage their hearing loss. Methods of rehabilitation are focused on helping overcome the challenges caused by hearing loss, therefore improving quality of day-to-day life.
Aural rehabilitation may be offered in individual or group settings, and it generally encompasses these main points:
- Adjusting to and learning about your specific type of hearing loss
- Improving communication skills
- How to use, care for, and make the most of your hearing aids
- Exploring accessories for your hearing aids
Finding the Right Fit
Research shows that two-thirds of hearing aids are improperly fit. Why? Because hearing technology by itself is not an effective solution. Some providers or hearing aid sellers only offer you value via cheaply priced technology, instead of focusing on your lifestyle, results, and satisfaction like we do. We will be there with you every step of the way to help retrain your brain to work effectively with your technology.
When we fit you with hearing aids, we take into account multiple factors:
- Your specific lifestyle
- Your specific hearing loss
- Your hearing goals
We use these factors to create the treatment plan that is best for you.