Have you ever stood in a crowded room full of people talking, only to hear your friend calling for you from across the room? That is because our brains can focus our attention on one voice in a noisy environment. Your brain can focus more energy on understanding the words coming from the individual speaking to you and not spend energy on all of the other conversations around you.
How is your brain able to do this? And if you suffer from hearing loss, will today’s hearing aid technology be able to mimic this sound filtration? Follow along as El Dorado Hearing explains why your brain can focus on one voice in a loud environment and how hearing aids can assist those struggling with hearing loss.
How Your Brain Focuses on a Single Voice
Edmund Lalor, Ph.D., associate professor of Neuroscience and Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rochester Medical Center, performed a research study to understand how the brain focuses and processes sounds. To determine how the brain can filter out noisy environments and focus its attention on one individual, in particular, the study examined how individuals can intentionally listen to one speaker while ignoring another. To do this, Lalor had participants listen to two stories simultaneously but were asked to focus on only one of the speakers using selective attention.
The findings suggested that the acoustics of both the focal story and the background story are processed similarly, but there was a distinctive way the brain processed the sounds. When examining the EEQ brainwave recordings, researchers uncovered that the story participants were told to listen to was converted into linguistic units known as phonemes while the other story was not.
Implications for the Hearing Impaired
What does this mean for individuals with hearing loss? Does selective attention work the same way or are there hearing devices that can mimic this process? Those with hearing loss often find it increasingly difficult to hold even the smallest of conversations in a loud environment. Researchers believe this is likely due to the neurons in their auditory brainstem not being properly activated.
To counteract this, many hard-of-hearing individuals turn to hearing aids to participate in conversations actively. However, not all hearing devices are created equal, and it’s essential to choose the most up-to-date technology if the individual is commonly in noisy environments where they need to be able to focus on one conversation.
Hearing aids work by amplifying noise and sending it into the ear for the brain to process. Outdated hearing technology can’t focus on one individual, but even the best hearing devices may struggle to function at their optimum level at times. By working with a skilled audiologist, they can help the individual find hearing aids that meet (and exceed) their needs — making it easier for them to participate in conversations and single out one particular voice.
Schedule a Hearing Test with El Dorado Hearing of Tucson
If you struggle to hear adequately in noisy environments, we provide complete hearing evaluations at El Dorado Hearing. Our hearing specialists are highly experienced and provide you with an in-depth hearing assessment to evaluate whether you have hearing loss and the extent to which the loss affects you.
We’ll help you find the proper hearing aids to restore your hearing and help you focus on specific conversations in loud environments. For personalized hearing testing in Tucson, AZ, make El Dorado Hearing of Tucson first on your list. We strive to make our hearing offices comfortable where everyone feels welcome.
If you are ready to regain control of your hearing, visit us at one of our hearing clinics. Contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our caring and expert hearing specialists!