Recent studies have shown a link between hearing loss and cognitive health. Patients with untreated hearing loss are at an increased risk for developing degenerative cognitive disorders such as dementia. Similarly, brain fitness software and training may also be able to help with hearing. A study to look at the effects of brain fitness software was conducted on participants with a wide range of hearing abilities, and the results were impressive.
Participants were randomly assigned to one of two training groups, the Posit Science’s Brain Fitness group and the control group. Those assigned to the Brain Fitness group ranged in age from 55 to 70 and were instructed to use a brain fitness training program on their personal computers for one hour each day, five days a week, for a total of eight weeks. Training covered six separate modules that studied the link between memory and perception in different situations, focusing primarily on the consonant-vowel transition, a notoriously vulnerable area of speech.
Participants in the Brain Fitness group showed improvements in neural timing, short-term memory and processing speed, particularly in noisy situations, while the control group displayed no change in hearing or cognitive functioning. Those in the Brain Fitness group were enthusiastic about their experience and reported noticeable improvements in their ability to hear and focus on conversations.
Hearing devices provide an invaluable benefit to millions of Americans suffering from hearing loss, but even they have their limits. Following conversations in noisy environments is an ongoing challenge for a number of reasons, including deficits in central auditory processing and cognitive function. Participating in brain exercises is one way for patients to help improve their listening experience.
Daily brain exercises can help fend off or delay cognitive decline. Just fifteen minutes of rigorous brain exercise a day can help keep the brain active and may improve hearing.