When you’re born with hearing loss, your brain develops a little differently than it normally might. Shocked? That’s because our concepts about the brain aren’t always valid. You might think that only damage or trauma can alter your brain. But the fact is that brains are a little more…dynamic.
Your Brain is Impacted 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 hearing and smell and taste will become ultra powerful as a counterbalance.
There might be some truth to this but it hasn’t been verified scientifically. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does change the sensory architecture of your brain. It’s open to question how much this holds true in adults, but we know it’s true with children.
The physical structure of children’s brains, who suffer from loss of hearing, has been demonstrated by CT scans to change, transforming the part of the brain usually responsible for interpreting sounds to instead be more sensitive to visual information.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that even moderate loss of hearing can have an impact on the brain’s architecture.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
A specific amount of brainpower is committed to each sense when they are all functioning. A specific amount of brain space goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and etc. When your young, your brain is very flexible and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
Conventional literature had already confirmed that in children with total or near-total loss of hearing, the brain changed its general architecture. Instead of being dedicated to hearing, that space in the brain is reconfigured to be devoted to vision. Whichever senses deliver the most information is where the brain applies most of its resources.
Changes With Mild to Moderate Hearing Loss
Children who suffer from mild to moderate loss of hearing, surprisingly, have also been observed to show these same rearrangements.
These brain changes won’t lead to superpowers or substantial behavioral changes, to be clear. Rather, they simply appear to help people adjust to hearing loss.
A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time
The research that loss of hearing can alter the brains of children definitely has implications beyond childhood. The vast majority of individuals living with loss of hearing are adults, and the hearing loss in general is frequently a direct result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being changed by hearing loss?
Some research indicates that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular regions of the brain. Hearing loss has been connected, according to other evidence, with higher chances for anxiety, dementia, and depression. So even though it’s not certain whether the other senses are enhanced by hearing loss we are sure it alters the brain.
Families from around the country have anecdotally backed this up.
Your Overall Health is Impacted by Hearing Loss
That loss of hearing can have such a major effect on the brain is more than basic superficial information. It calls attention to all of the vital and inherent links between your brain and your senses.
There can be noticeable and considerable mental health issues when loss of hearing develops. 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 steps to maintain your quality of life.
How much your brain physically changes with the onset of hearing loss will depend on numerous factors ((age is a major factor because older brains have a tougher time establishing new neural pathways). But there’s no doubt that untreated hearing loss will have an influence on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter what your age.