Your Hearing Can be Improved by Research – Here’s How

“Researchers

One of hearing loss’s most puzzling mysteries might have been solved by scientists from the famed Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the future design of hearing aids may get an overhaul based on their findings.

The long standing idea that voices are singled out by neural processing has been debunked by an MIT study. According to the study, it may actually be a biochemical filter that enables us to tune in to individual levels of sound.

How Our Ability to Hear is Impacted by Background Noise

Only a small fraction of the millions of people who cope with hearing loss actually use hearing aids to manage it.

Though a hearing aid can provide a significant boost to one’s ability to hear, those that wear a hearing-improvement device have typically still struggled in settings with copious amounts of background noise. For example, the continuous buzz associated with settings like parties and restaurants can wreak havoc on a person’s ability to single out a voice.

If you’re a person who is experiencing hearing loss, you very likely understand how annoying and upsetting it can be to have a personal conversation with somebody in a crowded room.

For decades scientists have been investigating hearing loss. Due to those efforts, the way in which sound waves travel throughout the inner ear, and how the ear distinguishes different frequencies of sounds, was thought to be well-understood.

Scientists Identify The Tectorial Membrane

But the tectorial membrane wasn’t discovered by scientists until 2007. You won’t see this microscopic membrane composed of a gel-like material in any other parts of the body. What really intrigued scientists was how the membrane supplies mechanical filtering that can decipher and delineate between sounds.

When vibration comes into the ear, the tiny tectorial membrane manages how water moves in response using small pores as it rests on little hairs in the cochlea. It was observed that the amplification created by the membrane caused a different reaction to different tones.

The tones at the highest and lowest end of the spectrum seemed to be less affected by the amplification, but the study found strong amplification among the middle tones.

Some scientists believe that more effective hearing aids that can better identify individual voices will be the result of this groundbreaking MIT study.

The Future of Hearing Aid Design

For years, the basic design concepts of hearing aids have remained relatively unchanged. Adjustments and fine-tuning have helped with some improvements, but most hearing aids are essentially comprised of microphones that receive sounds and a loudspeaker that amplifies them. This is, regrettably, where the shortcoming of this design becomes obvious.

Amplifiers, usually, are unable to differentiate between different frequencies of sounds, which means the ear gets increased levels of all sounds, that includes background noise. Another MIT scientist has long believed tectorial membrane exploration could result in new hearing aid designs that offer better speech recognition for wearers.

In theory, these new-and-improved hearing aids could functionally tune to a specific frequency range, which would enable the user to hear isolated sounds such as a single voice. With this design, the volume of those sounds would be the only sounds boosted to aid in reception.

Need Some Hearing Loss Help?

Call us if you think you might be experiencing some level of hearing loss. Our mission is to supply you with answers to your questions about hearing loss and the benefit of using hearing aids.

References

https://www.machinedesign.com/motion-control/researchers-discover-secret-how-we-can-pick-out-voice-crowd
http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2019-01/16/c_137749535.htm
https://medicalxpress.com/news/2010-11-tuning-mechanism.html

The site information is for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. To receive personalized advice or treatment, schedule an appointment.

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