Your brain develops differently than it normally would if you’re born with hearing loss. Shocked? That’s because our ideas about the brain aren’t always accurate. Your mind, you believe, is a static thing: it only changes because of injury or trauma. But brains are actually more dynamic than that.
Your Brain is Affected by Hearing
You’ve likely heard of the notion that, as one sense wanes, the other four senses will become more powerful to counterbalance. The popular example is usually vision: as you lose your vision, your taste, smell, and hearing will become very powerful as a counterbalance.
There could be some truth to this but it hasn’t been established scientifically. Because the architecture of your brain can be and is changed by loss of hearing. It’s open to question how much this is valid in adults, but we do know it’s true with children.
CT scans and other research on children with hearing loss demonstrate that their brains physically change their structures, altering the part of the brain normally responsible for interpreting sounds to be more sensitive to visual information.
The newest studies have gone on to discover that even minor loss of hearing can have an influence on the brain’s architecture.
How Hearing Loss Changes The Brain
A specific amount of brainpower is devoted to each sense when they are all working. A certain amount of brain power goes towards interpreting touch, a certain amount towards hearing or vision, and etc. When your young, your brain is extremely pliable and that’s when these pathways are being formed and this architecture is being set up.
It’s already been verified that the brain altered its structure in children with advanced hearing loss. Instead of being dedicated to hearing, that area in the brain is restructured to be dedicated to vision. The brain gives more power and space to the senses that are providing the most input.
Modifications With Mild to Medium Hearing Loss
Children who suffer from minor to medium loss of hearing, surprisingly, have also been seen to show these same rearrangements.
These brain changes won’t cause superpowers or significant behavioral changes, to be clear. Helping people adjust to hearing loss appears to be a more realistic interpretation.
A Long and Strong Relationship
The evidence that hearing loss can change the brains of children certainly has ramifications beyond childhood. The great majority of people dealing with hearing loss are adults, and the hearing loss itself is usually a result of long-term noise or age-related damage. Are their brains also being altered by loss of hearing?
Noise damage, according to evidence, can actually trigger inflammation in certain parts of the brain. Other evidence has connected neglected hearing loss with higher risks for anxiety, dementia, and depression. So although it’s not certain if the other senses are modified by hearing loss we are sure it modifies the brain.
That’s backed by anecdotal evidence from people across the country.
The Affect of Hearing Loss on Your General Health
That hearing loss can have such an enormous effect on the brain is more than basic superficial information. It calls attention to all of the vital and inherent relationships between your brain and your senses.
There can be noticeable and substantial mental health issues when loss of hearing develops. Being informed of those effects can help you prepare for them. And the more prepared you are, the more you can take the appropriate steps to protect your quality of life.
Many factors will define how much your hearing loss will physically change your brain ((age is a major factor because older brains have a more difficult time creating new neural pathways). But regardless of your age or how severe your hearing loss is, untreated hearing loss will absolutely have an effect on your brain.