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Hearing Troubles? Here is How Video Games Can Help!

Understanding speech and sound in loud environments is not always easy, and when you throw in hearing loss issues brought about by age or other factors, things only get more complicated.

Hearing loss, a common problem among the old, is usually tried to be fixed by using hearing aids. But as it stands, even these devices have their limitations. Hearing aids can help amplify sound, but this doesn’t necessarily help you distinguish between words when there’s a lot of background noise. However, that could soon be a thing of the past as a recent research has found a far easier, and more interesting way to end hearing troubles across the globe.

According to a report published in CNN, a team from Boston’s Harvard Medical School has developed a computer game that trains the brain to better understand words in noisy situations. After playing the game a few hours per week for two months, elderly people who had hearing loss were able to correctly identify 25 per cent more words spoken in noisy conditions.

The game has been created after 13 years of research to improve people’s hearing in real life.

Explaining what prompted them to invent the game, the team’s head, Daniel Polley said, “Not hearing can lead to social isolation and we know that social situations are a real lifeline to your emotional health. If your social world gets cut off that can lead to a broad spectrum of cognitive decline as you age.”

Interestingly, this new game that promises to improve your hearing works in a very different way than you would imagine. The audio game does not focus on the ear to help you hear better, but rather, trains the brain to better process signals received from the ear to improve hearing.

So essentially, the hearing of the subjects didn’t get better, strictly speaking, rather, it was their ability to make sense of what they’d heard that improved.

Here’s how it works:

“If someone near you calls out at a party, that sound will pass through your ears to tiny hair cells. Each sound carries its own vibration impacting the tiny hair differently. The hair converts the sound wave to an electrical signal that goes to your brain, which then processes the sound determining if someone called out for Jen or gin.”

Why you should play video games

This, however, is just one example that highlights the benefits of playing certain video games. A research conducted by a team of German neuroscientists in 2013 had found that individuals who played Super Mario 64, a popular 3D platform game, for at least 30 minutes a day for two months showed growth in specific areas of their brains.

Another unexpected bonus of playing specific games is improved eyesight. A new study conducted by teams from the University of Rochester and Vanderbilt University has found that after playing eight hours of children friendly action games, children reported up to a 50 per cent improvement in their eyesight.

All more than good enough reasons to get hooked to games if you already aren’t!

Contact Chicagoland Hearing Aid Centers if you have any questions about your personal hearing loss!