Your brain develops in a different way than it normally would if you’re born with loss of hearing. Surprised? That’s because we typically think about brains in the wrong way. You may think that only damage or trauma can alter your brain. But brains are really more dynamic than that.
Hearing Affects Your Brain
The majority of people have heard that when one sense decreases 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.
That hasn’t been proven scientifically, but like all good myths, there may be a nugget of truth somewhere in there. Because loss of hearing, for example, can and does change 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 research on children who have hearing loss demonstrate that their brains physically change their structures, changing the hearing centers of the brain to visual centers.
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
A specific amount of brainpower is devoted to each sense when they are all functioning. The interpreting of touch, or taste, or vision and so on, all utilize a specific amount of brain space. When your young, your brain is extremely pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
Conventional literature had already verified that in children with total or near-total hearing loss, the brain modified its general structure. The space that would normally be devoted to hearing is instead reconfigured to boost visual cognition. Whichever senses provide the most information is where the brain applies most of its resources.
Minor to Medium Hearing Loss Also Causes Modifications
Children who suffer from minor to moderate loss of hearing, surprisingly, have also been seen to show these same rearrangements.
Make no mistake, these changes in the brain aren’t going to cause significant behavioral changes and they won’t produce superpowers. Instead, they simply appear to help individuals adapt to hearing loss.
A Relationship That Has Been Strong For a Long Time
The change in the brains of children certainly has far reaching repercussions. The vast majority of people living with hearing loss are adults, and the hearing loss in general is usually a direct result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being changed by loss of hearing?
Some evidence reveals that noise damage can actually trigger inflammation in particular areas of the brain. Other evidence has linked neglected hearing loss with higher chances for dementia, depression, and anxiety. So although we haven’t confirmed hearing loss boosts your other senses, it does impact the brain.
That’s backed by anecdotal evidence from families across the country.
Your Overall Health is Influenced by Hearing Loss
It’s more than superficial insight that loss of hearing can have such an important impact on the brain. It reminds us all of the vital and inherent connections between your brain and your senses.
There can be obvious and substantial mental health issues when hearing loss develops. In order to be prepared for these consequences you need to be cognizant of them. And being prepared will help you take action to maintain your quality of life.
How much your brain physically changes with the start of hearing loss will depend on many factors ((age is a significant factor because older brains have a harder time developing new neural pathways). But you can be certain that neglected hearing loss will have an influence on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter how old you are.