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Even though our brain is arguably our most important organ, it’s easy to neglect it, or write it off as a “machine” that will thrive or degenerate as it pleases. The idea that we are powerless when it comes to promoting healthy brain function is an unfortunate misconception. You can take steps to make sure that your brain is operating smoothly and the road begins with your ears! And hearing aids can help.

Hearing Loss and Brain Atrophy:

One year ago, we talked about the relationship between hearing loss and various cognitive disorders. We learned that there is a link between hearing loss and some mental illnesses, including dementia, depression and anxiety.

There is a condition known as brain atrophy, which occurs when there is damage to the connections between brain cells. This can be attributed to a variety of diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and epilepsy.

A study conducted by the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in 2011 and published in The Journal of Neuroscience, suggests that hearing loss may lead to gray matter atrophy in auditory areas of the brain, particularly in older adults.

Those suffering from brain atrophy associated with hearing loss will likely struggle to understand speech, as they have to work harder to listen to and absorb sound.

Hearing Loss and Brain Atrophy: About the Study:

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By using MRI scans to evaluate the brain activity of adults with both hearing loss and normal hearing, the study determined that when listening to a variety of complex sentences, those with impaired hearing demonstrated less brain activity than those with normal hearing.

Furthermore, hearing impaired individuals exhibited less gray matter in their auditory cortices, which supports the idea that a decline in hearing may be connected to increased atrophy in the brain.

Hearing Loss and Brain Atrophy: Symptoms of Brain Atrophy:

Brain atrophy manifests itself through a variety of symptoms, which may include changes in mood and memory loss, and sometimes more severely, dementia or seizures.

Hearing Loss and Brain Atrophy: The Role of Hearing Aids:

By using hearing aids, you may protect yourself from more than just hearing loss.  As Jonathan Peelle, Ph.D., lead author of the study put it, “Your hearing ability directly affects how the brain processes sounds, including speech. Preserving your hearing doesn’t only protect your ears, but also helps your brain perform at its best.”

by Leah Sininsky

2 responses to “Hearing Aids: the Key to Healthy Brain Function? Examining Hearing Loss

  1. Good Morning
    I have recently acquired hearing aids and I love them. I am 77. But I need to be sure hearing aids cannot affect the brain adversely as I have had an unspecified seizure disorder for 30 or more years. Eventually Brigham and Woman’s put me on Rivotril – now clonazepam – and I have taken them ever since. I never had an actual seizure but movement in the head and I knew it was happening but it was not noticeable unless I had a jolt and had to hold on to something. So no actual diagnosis. Since having hearing aids I had a vision migraine I’ve never had before. Investigation showed up no reason. I did have brain problems when I had Nevro nerve stimulator for pain inserted in my back and had to have it removed. It changed my personality. I needed it due to pain from failed knee replacements due to an allergy – nickel and chrome – to new knees. Even though they knew I am very allergic, no blood tests were do and my life changed 7 years ago. I had a revision to titanium but walking and pain are a problem. So can Hearing aids ADVERSELY affect my brain – I’ve had unusual symptoms and don’t think I concentrate as well – I play mahjongg 3 times a week, read a lot and do hear well now.

  2. What is the best hearing aid for the cost?Does your hearing get worse if you wait until it is real bothersome? How often do you have to replace them?Can I get one and not get both?

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