Brain Exercises To Help You Hear in Noise

Brain Exercises To Help You Hear in Noise

Olga Lis, MS, CCC-A

If you’ve recently invested in hearing aids and have made it past the adjustment period, then you know how supportive they can be in helping you hear the people throughout your life. By now you may already be enjoying the ability to follow conversations with more confidence and navigate the world with added confidence and poise. However, despite the benefits, hearing in noise even with hearing aids can be a challenge. 

Hearing Through Background Noise

It’s normal for everyone to struggle to hear when background noise is present. This can be challenging for your ears to filter out the environmental sounds. However, if this is a chronic situation, especially when a mild background noise is present, then it can be the first symptom of moderate hearing loss or auditory processing disorder (APD). Hearing loss is a progressive condition which will get worse if left untreated. This means if you haven’t already attended a hearing exam, it is important to test your hearing and find a treatment that is right for you and your particular hearing loss. Some hearing aids offer a feature called noise reduction. Noise reduction decreases the volume of loud noises in the environment, making it easier for the hearing aid user to hear speech sounds in the presence of background noise. However, while this can help decrease the amount of ambient noise it won’t make speech clearer. Even with modern technological advancements, aiding in the discernment of speech in loud places remains one of the biggest obstacles for hearing aid developers and users. To hear better in noise, it requires practice.

Exercises to Help You Hear in Noise

Your brain can stay sharper with regular exercise. Like a muscle the more committed you are, the faster and clearer you can train your brain to be, allowing for better comprehension of speech in noise. While brain training won’t restore your hearing, with hearing aids, you can hone your brain in combination with noise reduction features to help you hear with greater ease in noisy settings such as restaurants during dinner rush or a boisterous party.

Hearing and the Brain

Our ears collect sound, but the process is not completed until sound reaches our brain. Most cases of hearing loss occur due to damage causing a disconnect between our ears and our brain. This has a direct effect on our cognitive functions. As healthy hearing relies on established pathways in the auditory cortex, when there is an interruption in some sounds it can cause fragments of sounds reaching the brain, requiring our brains to work harder under duress. Overtime, this can permanently alter our cognitive functioning. Other cognitive activities become increasingly diverted to compensate for the challenges in hearing comprehension.

Exercise your Brain

When you invest in hearing aids you lessen the load on your cognitive abilities as sounds you haven’t heard in years are reintroduced. However, it can take time for your brain to get used to sounds you haven’t heard in a very long time—in some cases years or decades!  It can take practice to get used to learning how to process these sounds again. However, research shows that brain training can have a significant impact on improving hearing skills. 

Sound-focused Brain Training Game

A team at Harvard discovered notable improvements to hearing ability with the use of a sound-focused brain training game. This game was designed with the intent to help users with hearing loss develop their spatial sense of sound. By using a puzzle, users are tasked with properly locating sound sources from a tablet screen. Research found that after even a brief period of playing, a 25% increase was reported in their subject’s abilities to detect speech in noise. This demonstrates that in the Smartphone era, you can improve your ability to hear in your spare moments during public transit, in waiting rooms or even at busy restaurants.

For instance, the i-Angel Sound app is a free exercise application, consistently updated to help you hear in sound when you are on the go. You may also enjoy the Auditory Verbal app which features multi-tiered sound recognition training and retails for under $4! 

Find Out What We Can Do for You

Just because you are struggling to hear in sound doesn’t mean your social life is over. Contact us today to schedule a hearing exam and find out what we can offer to help you hear better in noise!