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Hearing Loss

Difficulty In Hearing Linked To Brain

The hearing difficulty experienced by older people concerns not just the auditory system but also changes in “attention processes” in the brain, according to researchers.

In reaching that conclusion, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, examined the alpha waves – brain currents – of 20- to 30-year-old and 60- to 70-year-old study participants during a hearing task. In hearing tasks, the strength of these alpha waves indicates the listening effort of the listener, according to a news release from the institute.

Alpha waves adapt to different hearing situations and help improve speech comprehension in everyday situations.

Participants, in several tests, listened to two spoken numbers and had to indicate by pressing a button whether the second number was higher or lower than the first, the news release said. The numbers were given with background noise to simulate the kind of hearing situation that people are faced with. When the numbers were more audible, the older subjects’ showed a lower “amplitude” of alpha waves than the younger subjects.

The investigators said the research results could lead to more effective hearing aids that would adapt to the listener’s brain activity.In reaching that conclusion, researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, examined the alpha waves – brain currents – of 20- to 30-year-old and 60- to 70-year-old study participants during a hearing task. In hearing tasks, the strength of these alpha waves indicates the listening effort of the listener, according to a news release from the institute.

Alpha waves adapt to different hearing situations and help improve speech comprehension in everyday situations.

Participants, in several tests, listened to two spoken numbers and had to indicate by pressing a button whether the second number was higher or lower than the first, the news release said. The numbers were given with background noise to simulate the kind of hearing situation that people are faced with. When the numbers were more audible, the older subjects’ showed a lower “amplitude” of alpha waves than the younger subjects.

The investigators said the research results could lead to more effective hearing aids that would adapt to the listener’s brain activity.

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