Your brain develops differently than normal if you’re born with loss of hearing. Surprised? That’s because we typically have false ideas about brain development. You may think that only damage or trauma can change your brain. But the truth is that brains are a little more…dynamic.
Hearing Affects Your Brain
The majority of people have heard that when one sense diminishes the others become stronger. Vision is the most well known instance: as you begin to lose your vision, your hearing and smell and taste will become very powerful as a counterbalance.
There might be some truth to this but it hasn’t been established scientifically. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does alter the sensory architecture of your brain. At least we know that happens in children, how much we can extrapolate to adults is uncertain.
CT scans and other studies of children who have loss of hearing reveal that their brains physically change their structures, transforming the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to be more sensitive to visual information.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that the brain’s architecture can be impacted by even mild loss of hearing.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
A certain amount of brainpower is committed to each sense when they are all working. A specific amount of brain space goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and so on. When your young, your brain is very pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
It’s already been confirmed that the brain altered its structure in children with high degrees of hearing loss. Instead of being dedicated to hearing, that area in the brain is restructured to be committed to vision. The brain devotes more space and more power to the senses that are offering the most input.
Modifications With Mild to Medium Loss of Hearing
Children who suffer from minor to moderate hearing loss, surprisingly, have also been seen to show these same rearrangements.
Make no mistake, these changes in the brain aren’t going to produce significant behavioral changes and they won’t lead to superpowers. Rather, they simply seem to help individuals adapt to hearing loss.
A Long and Strong Relationship
The modification in the brains of children definitely has far reaching repercussions. Hearing loss is commonly an outcome of long term noise related or age related hearing damage meaning that most people who suffer from it are adults. Is loss of hearing altering their brains, too?
Some evidence suggests that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular areas of the brain. Hearing loss has been linked, according to other evidence, with higher chances for dementia, depression, and anxiety. So even though it’s not certain if the other senses are modified by hearing loss we are sure it changes the brain.
That’s borne out by anecdotal evidence from families across the country.
The Impact of Hearing Loss on Your Overall Health
That loss of hearing can have such a significant impact on the brain is more than basic trivial information. It reminds us all of the vital and intrinsic links between your brain and your senses.
When loss of hearing develops, there are often substantial and obvious mental health effects. So that you can be prepared for these consequences you need to be aware of them. And the more prepared you are, the more you can take action to protect your quality of life.
Many factors will define how much your loss of hearing will physically alter your brain (including your age, older brains commonly firm up that architecture and new neural pathways are harder to establish as a result). But there’s no doubt that neglected hearing loss will have an effect on your brain, regardless of how mild it is, and no matter what your age.