The Sight/Sound Link…and What It Means for Hearing

Posted in: Hearing News,New Articles  |  March 3, 2014 
The Sight/Sound Link…and What It Means for Hearing

You might have heard people say that when one sense is lost, the others go into overdrive. A new study proves some truth to that. And it relates to special connections in the brain.

Researchers studied adult mice that lived in total darkness for a week. During that time, the brain physically adapted to make the sense of hearing stronger. The thalamus, which helps the sense organs “talk” to the brain, grew more connections to the auditory cortex, the brain’s hearing center.

Why?

Researchers aren’t quite sure, but the results were clear. The mice could hear softer sounds, make out a wider variety of tones and detect sounds faster. The results lasted for up to a week after the mice returned to the light.

lab mice for tinnutus research

One big surprise: the brain was adaptable in adult mice. Generally, the adult brain is less flexible, which explains why it’s easier for children to do things like learn new languages. But the study shows the brain can adapt later in life, too.

So what does all this mean for hearing assistance?

 

cochlear implant

cochlear implant

Researchers can use the study to improve the ways that adults are given cochlear implants, special electronic devices that enhance hearing abilities.

Options for help with hearing loss are constantly changing. If you have questions about your hearing, we’re here. It’s never too early — or too late — to get a hearing evaluation, so give us a call anytime to discuss the best options for you.