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 the special link between sight and sound 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.
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.
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?
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 as we learn more about the link between sight and sound in the brain. 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.
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