Researchers have found that using audio games can actually train people to hear soft speech in noisy environments. Learn more about audio games, how they may be able to supplement hearing aids, and where to find them!
Hearing Aids and Background Noise
Scientists from the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary have developed audio game trials for mice and humans to improve their ability to hear soft sounds in noisy environments. The training can be used as an alternative for people who don’t benefit from other kinds of rehabilitation.
Many individuals with hearing loss struggle to hear soft speech in loud environments. This can make it hard to communicate in subways, parties and music concerts. The game researchers used was designed so that it provides feedback, allowing the mice and humans to pinpoint a target.
The audio game trials lasted for 30 minutes a day, with the mice showing long-term improvement in their hearing abilities.
In a similar experiment conducted in 2013, researchers from the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders found that subjecting mice to a sound vaccine actually prevented them from getting hearing loss as a result of ototoxic drugs.
People that were exposed to sounds from gameplay but withheld from playing didn’t show noticeable improvement in their ability to distinguish soft speech.
Researchers measured the activity in the auditory brain regions of mice to see how the games may have caused improvement, and they found that the mice became very sensitive to small noises that gave away locations of the game target.
Audio Games and Visually Guided Hearing Aids
You can find audio games at audiogames.net, where they have hundreds of video games that rely on sound. The creators behind Audiogames.net have been researching and making sound-related video games since 2000. The website not only has game reviews to help users find which games are right for them, but also has a forum where members can discuss different audio games.
Many of the games available at audiogames.net rely on sound alone and can be played by individuals with visual impairments.
You can also try Arkamys Apps, a mobile application company that has recently released a new series of audio games downloadable through App Store or Ovi Store.
Dr. Jonathon Whitton, the lead author of the publication on audio game training, notes that audio gaming can actually be used as a supplement to specialized
Combining this audio gaming with hearing aids or cochlear implants can allow people with hearing loss to better interpret their environment, an improvement that may not be possible by just using hearing aids.
Visually Guided Hearing Aids, developed at Boston University’s Sargent College in 2012, are equipped with an eye tracker and acoustic beam. The hearing aid filters out background noise when the user’s gaze is directed to a specific area, meaning the sound of a certain object or location can be intensified at the user’s discretion.
Together with Visually Guided Hearing Aids, audio game training can help people with hearing loss adjust to different noise levels.