Learning to Hear Again

Learning to hear again



Hearing a sound does not mean you can understand it.

All sounds we recognise, the door bell, a musical chord or a portion of a word, are made up of frequencies or pitches. Indeed all sounds we hear in daily life are made up of combinations of the same frequencies - the combinations are just different for each sound in the same way that the 64 notes on a piano keyboard can create a multitude of different tunes.

If someone speaks to you in a language you are not familiar with, it is simply processed as noise as far as your brain is concerned. Even if you were good a speaking it a few years ago, lack of practice means you will slowly but surely forget it. All languages are just variations on the same frequencies used in English. If your hearing is impaired you lose some of the frequencies and so don't recognise the combination you have heard exactly in the same way that you forget the foreign language.

hear well in background noise

Peaks and troughs of sound. The taller the trace the louder the sound, and the more compact, the higher the frequency or pitch of the sound.

Each sound has its own shape and we memorise every sound we hear so we can recognise it the next time. 

When our hearing fails so does our memory for each sound, so we need to allow time for our brain to relearn each sound when we get new hearing aids.

sound waves that make up the words we hear

Different pitches  at varying volumes create the individual sound. Several of these make up each letter we hear, especially complex versions of these sounds make up words.


Below are the images of the word SOUND. 
It is made up of four portions. S-OW-N-D.

The most common hearing losses result in losing the higher frequencies. In the example above the 'S'  would go first followed by the 'N' and 'D' finally the 'O' would disappear.

The job of a hearing aid is to amplify the individual sounds by enough so that we hear them normally again.... but.....

....The longer someone goes without hearing all the frequencies of speech properly, the more they will forget it.

In exactly as we forget a foreign language when we don't practice regularly.

Simply travelling abroad won't instantly re-create the ability to speak the local language, 

.... We have to invest time and perseverance to relearn the foreign language we have forgotten, spending the time to relearn the sounds, just as you do when you get a new hearing system.

Simply having hearing aids, no matter how good they are, will not suddenly create the ability to process the sounds we have forgotten.

When we hear missing frequencies for the first time our brain will still process them as noise.

It needs to re-associate the frequency with a meaning.  Gradually, as with foreign languages, we learn sounds first, then and start to hear the words we have forgotten.

Whilst it might appear weird that we need to relearn our own language,  it is precisely that process that we undertake when learning a different language, or training our fingers to play a musical instrument.

It takes time, however investing that time to follow a relearning, rehabilitation process will result in much more benefit from hearing aids in the long term and much less frustration in the initial stages.

If you are hearing more or less than you want please contact us for advice and assistance.

hear and understand speech from all around you
learning a new skill like hearing in noise