Social interaction is key to having the ability to comprehend socially meaningful sounds, but people who suffer from hearing loss may find themselves isolated. Social isolation is just one of the mental and emotional effects of hearing loss.
Studies have shown that socially meaningful sounds are able to physically change your ear in order to improve its sensitivity, and as a result, improve your hearing. You can listen to these sounds to stimulate your auditory system so that your ability to hear naturally is improved.
How Do the Sounds Improve Your Hearing
Exercises the Muscles
The sounds can exercise the two minuscule muscles in your ear that have active roles in how you are able to hear. If the muscles lose their tone and become inflexible, your ear will be unable to distinguish between certain sound frequencies, which means that the sounds will not reach your inner ear.
Repairs of the Hair Cells
If your hearing loss stems from sensorineural complications, attentive listening to high-frequency sounds can improve the stimulation the hair cells, or cilia, and the auditory nerve in your ears. Hair cells that have been flattened by excessive noise can be stimulated to return to their upright position by listening to high-frequency sounds.
Restores Your Central Auditory Function
The inability to listen, or actively distinguishing and focusing on the sounds that you hear, can make it difficult to be surrounded by noise and participate in a conversation. It is also an indication that you may suffer from complications related to auditory processing. Exposing yourself to socially meaningful sounds may help develop stronger neural connections between your right ear and the left side of your brain, which control your language and auditory processes.
Researchers at Georgia State University used green treefrogs to examine how hearing socially meaningful sounds are able to alter the structure of the ear, giving it the enhanced ability to recognize those sounds. The green treefrogs were used because of their simple social system in which there are no more than two vocal calls. The researchers observed the manner in which the animals were able to hear socially meaningful sounds after being exposed to the sounds for a prolonged period of time. It was compared to how the animals responded to sounds while in social isolation and being random sounds.
How to Listen to the Sounds
Whether or not your hearing loss has made the use of a hearing aid necessary, you can set aside time to engage in active listening to not only socially meaningful sounds but other sounds, such as music, so you are better able to detect and identify certain sounds. It may take practice for you to learn how to isolate the sounds that you want to hear when your background noises consist of loud conversations, traffic or the sound of machinery. However, doing so will help your brain become more effective at processing sounds.