Your brain develops in a different way than it normally would if you’re born with loss of hearing. Shocked? That’s because our ideas about the brain aren’t always accurate. You may think that only damage or trauma can alter your brain. But brains are actually more dynamic than that.
Hearing Affects Your Brain
The majority of people have heard that when one sense diminishes the others get more powerful. The popular example is always vision: your senses of smell, taste, and hearing will become stronger to compensate for loss of vision.
There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been verified scientifically. Because hearing loss, for example, can and does change the sensory architecture of your brain. It’s open to debate how much this holds true in adults, but we do know it’s true with children.
CT scans and other studies of children with loss of hearing show that their brains physically alter their structures, changing the hearing centers of the brain to visual centers.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that even mild loss of hearing can have an effect on the brain’s architecture.
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 make use of a specific amount of brain power. Much of this architecture is established when you’re young (the brains of children are incredibly flexible) 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 changed its overall structure. Instead of being committed to hearing, that area in the brain is reconfigured to be devoted to vision. The brain devotes more power and space to the senses that are providing the most information.
Changes With Minor to Moderate Loss of Hearing
What’s unexpected is that this same rearrangement has been observed in children with mild to medium loss of hearing also.
These brain changes won’t cause superpowers or significant behavioral changes, to be clear. Helping people adapt to loss of hearing seems to be a more accurate interpretation.
A Long and Strong Relationship
The evidence that loss of hearing can alter the brains of children certainly has repercussions beyond childhood. Loss of hearing is frequently a result of long term noise related or age related hearing damage meaning that the majority of people who suffer from it are adults. Is loss of hearing changing their brains, as well?
Noise damage, according to evidence, can actually cause inflammation in certain regions of the brain. Hearing loss has been associated, according to other evidence, with higher risks for anxiety, dementia, and depression. So while it’s not certain whether the other senses are enhanced by hearing loss we do know it modifies the brain.
Families from around the US have anecdotally backed this up.
Your Overall Health is Affected by Hearing Loss
That loss of hearing can have such a substantial influence on the brain is more than basic superficial insight. It’s a reminder that the senses and the brain are intrinsically connected.
When loss of hearing develops, there are commonly substantial and noticeable mental health impacts. In order to be prepared for these consequences you need to be aware of them. And the more educated you are, the more you can take the appropriate steps to preserve your quality of life.
How drastically your brain physically changes with the onset of hearing loss will depend on a myriad of factors ((age is a significant factor because older brains have a harder time developing new neural pathways). But you can be certain that untreated hearing loss will have an effect on your brain, no matter how mild it is, and no matter how old you are.