Your brain develops differently than it normally would if you’re born with loss of hearing. Is that surprising to you? That’s because our concepts about the brain aren’t always accurate. You might think that only injury or trauma can change your brain. But the reality is that brains are a little more…dynamic.
Your Brain is Affected by Hearing
Most people have heard that when one sense diminishes the others get more powerful. The well-known example is usually vision: as you begin to lose your vision, your taste, smell, and hearing will become ultra powerful as a counterbalance.
There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been confirmed scientifically. Because the architecture of your brain can be and is changed by hearing loss. At least we know that happens in children, how much we can apply this to adults is an open question.
The physical structure of children’s brains, who have hearing loss, has been shown by CT scans to change, altering the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to instead 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 hearing loss.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
When all five senses are working, the brain dedicates a certain amount of space (and power) to each one. The interpreting of touch, or taste, or vision and so on, all utilize a certain amount of brain power. A lot of this architecture is established when you’re young (the brains of children are incredibly pliable) because that’s when you’re first developing all of these neural pathways.
Conventional literature had already verified that in children with total or near-total hearing loss, the brain modified its overall structure. Instead of being committed to hearing, that area in the brain is restructured to be devoted to vision. Whichever senses deliver the most information is where the brain applies most of its resources.
Modifications With Mild to Medium Loss of Hearing
Children who have mild to moderate loss of hearing, surprisingly, have also been seen to show these same rearrangements.
These brain modifications won’t cause superpowers or substantial behavioral changes, to be clear. Alternatively, they simply seem to help individuals adjust to hearing loss.
A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time
The evidence that hearing loss can change the brains of children definitely has ramifications beyond childhood. Hearing loss is frequently a result of long term noise related or age related hearing damage which means most people suffering from it are adults. Are their brains also being changed by loss of hearing?
Some evidence indicates that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in certain regions of the brain. Other evidence has associated neglected hearing loss with higher chances for anxiety, dementia, and depression. So even though we haven’t confirmed hearing loss boosts your other senses, it does influence the brain.
Individuals from around the US have anecdotally backed this up.
Your Overall Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
That loss of hearing can have such a major impact on the brain is more than simple trivial information. It’s a reminder that the senses and the brain are inherently connected.
There can be obvious and significant mental health problems when loss of hearing develops. So that you can be prepared for these consequences you need to be cognizant of them. And the more educated you are, the more you can take action to maintain your quality of life.
How substantially your brain physically changes with the onset of hearing loss will depend on several factors ((age is a leading factor because older brains have a harder time developing new neural pathways). But you can be certain that untreated hearing loss will have an influence on your brain, regardless of how mild it is, and no matter what your age.