Woman doing crossword puzzle and wearing hearing aid to improve her brain.

Your brain develops in a different way than normal if you’re born with loss of hearing. Surprised? That’s because our ideas about the brain aren’t always accurate. Your mind, you believe, is a static thing: it only changes due to injury or trauma. But the fact is that brains are a little more…dynamic.

Your Brain is Impacted by Hearing

The majority of people have heard that when one sense decreases the others become more powerful. Vision is the most well known example: as you lose your vision, your taste, smell, and hearing will become super powerful as a counterbalance.

There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been proven scientifically. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does alter the sensory architecture of your brain. At least we know that occurs in children, how much we can extrapolate to adults is uncertain.

The physical structure of children’s brains, who have loss of hearing, has been demonstrated by CT scans to change, changing the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to be more sensitive to visual information.

The newest studies have gone on to discover that even moderate hearing loss can have an influence on the brain’s architecture.

How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain

A specific amount of brainpower is dedicated to each sense when they are all working. A specific amount of brain power goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and so on. When your young, your brain is extremely pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.

Conventional literature had already verified that in children with total or near-total hearing loss, the brain changed its general structure. Instead of being committed to hearing, that space in the brain is restructured to be committed to vision. The brain gives more power and space to the senses that are delivering the most input.

Modifications With Mild to Medium Loss of Hearing

What’s unexpected is that this same rearrangement has been observed in children with mild to medium hearing loss also.

These brain alterations won’t result in superpowers or substantial behavioral changes, to be clear. Helping people adapt to hearing loss appears to be a more realistic interpretation.

A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time

The research that loss of hearing can alter the brains of children definitely has ramifications beyond childhood. The great majority of people dealing with loss of hearing are adults, and the hearing loss itself is frequently a direct result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being altered by hearing loss?

Some research suggests that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular areas of the brain. Other evidence has associated untreated hearing loss with higher chances for dementia, depression, and anxiety. So although it’s not certain if the other senses are improved by hearing loss we are sure it modifies the brain.

Individuals from around the country have anecdotally borne this out.

The Affect of Hearing Loss on Your General Health

It’s more than superficial insight that loss of hearing can have such an important influence on the brain. It’s a reminder that the brain and the senses are inherently connected.

There can be noticeable and considerable mental health issues when hearing loss develops. So that you can be prepared for these consequences you need to be mindful of them. And being prepared will help you take the appropriate steps to maintain your quality of life.

How drastically your brain physically changes with the start of hearing loss will depend on a myriad of factors ((age is a leading factor because older brains have a more difficult time creating new neural pathways). But there’s no doubt that neglected hearing loss will have an effect on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter how old you are.

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