The brain’s role in hearing

Posted by Sasha Hodes on Feb 5, 2020 9:57:03 AM

When you think of hearing, naturally and instinctively you associate it with the ears. But this isn’t the full story of how you connect to your sound environment. The ears collect and transmit sound to the brain. The brain processes this sound and turns it into something intelligible. Your brain is constantly, actively listening to sound signals sent by your ears and picking out the useful information, i.e speech from noise.1 It’s the brain that gives you the ability to understand sound and decides what to process and focus on.1

When the brain struggles to hear

Everyone’s brain requires clarity of voice in order to properly process speech. When the brain receives a speech signal that’s mixed with background noise, it makes the job of processing speech much harder, since it has to use much more mental energy (cognitive load) trying to separate the speech from the rest of the noise.

If you have a hearing impairment or auditory processing disorder, your brain receives a degraded signal due to a broken or damaged auditory nerve, which is the pathway for sound signals traveling from your inner ear to your brain. This is especially the case with trying to hear speech when there’s a lot of background noise, as the signal is degraded further by the cacophony of noises.2 When the brain receives a degraded signal from a bad connection with the inner ear or from background noise, it receives reduced clarity of speech, making conversation in noise much harder.2

Subsequently, your brain attempts to make up for its lack of auditory processing through what is often referred to as visual hearing3, such as reading lips, faces, expressions, and body language with the eyes. Sometimes the hearing impaired person using visual hearing (i.e. lipreading) are unaware that they are doing so3, as was Jose in one of our testimonials (which you can watch here), who thought he was listening to the conversation fine, but turned out he was actually unconsciously supplementing his hearing by reading our lips.

What can help the brain to hear? 

The struggle with conversation in background noise affects around two billion people across the globe4. For many of us in highly populated, urban environments the world is only getting more noisy. We at ChatableApps understand that your hearing ability is highly dependent on the health and continued functionality of both ears and brain. Our next generation hearing aid app, Chatable is a universal solution to the struggle of hearing conversation in background noise.

Through a pioneering approach to auditory neuroscience, we have developed a proprietary artificial intelligence - VOXimity, which creates a clean voice signal without background noise. This means the brain can easily process and understand speech without effort. Chatable has broken out of the box of hearing technology, since it is more of a brain enhancer - replicating the neural speech processing functionality of a healthy auditory brain - than anything else. Packed into the confines of a smartphone’s powerful GPU chip, Chatable is available to everyone, everywhere. All one has to do is simply go on to the Google Play Store and download the Chatable app.

Appendix:
1.https://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52410-Brain-awareness-week-how-your-brain-and-ears-work-together
2. Peelle J. E. (2018). Listening Effort: How the Cognitive Consequences of Acoustic Challenge Are Reflected in Brain and Behavior.
3.Plass, J., Guzman-Martinez, E., Ortega, L., Grabowecky, M., & Suzuki, S. (2014). Lip reading without awareness.
4. Plack, C. J., Barker, D., & Prendergast, G. (2014). Perceptual consequences of "hidden" hearing loss. Trends in hearing,