Many may not know, that hearing loss isn’t only directly related to your ears. Recent studies have found that as people get older, the parts of their brain that process speech slow down, and it becomes especially difficult to differentiate one voice in a noisy environment with another. New research suggests there may be a way to help older people hear better: brain training.
The Verge reports that a new double-blind study published in Current Biology ,suggests that a brain activity as simple as a a video game could help older people improve their hearing ability. Though the study was too small to be conclusive, the results are notable in the wake of several large studies in the past few years that found that the brain-training games on apps like Luminosity don’t improve cognitive skills in the real world. Most research on brain training games has found that while you might get better at the game, you probably won’t be able to translate that skill to your real life.
In the current study, the researchers recruited 24 older adults average age of 70, all of whom have been using hearing aids for a long time. For eight weeks they were tested using video games. Musical training has also been associated with stronger audio perception, so half of the participants were asked to play a game that asked them to identify subtle changes in audible tones in order to piece together a puzzle, and the other half played a placebo game designed to test their memory. In the former, as the levels got more difficult, the background noise got louder. The researchers compare the task to a violinist tuning out the rest of the orchestra in order to listen to just their own instrument.
At the end of it all, the training was more successful for those that challenged their brains more intensely. While this is indeed a small study, there are still some excellent medical signs that represent challenging your brain, may help combat hearing loss. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain needs to have exercise to stay strong and healthy. Challenge yourself whenever you can. Spend time solving puzzles with your children or grandchildren, maybe tune in to a little more “Jeopardy” and learn some interesting facts.
To learn more about this study, click here.