On 20th August 2020 Oticon published new evidence from their research in how to successfully open up sound for those with hearing loss, which not only delivers clear sound but also supports the brain's natural hearing function.
On their research journey, they carried out many studies using various testing methods, which ultimately showed that our brains perform more efficiently if it has the means to access all sounds from our surrounding soundscape. These studies challenged the traditional way in which historical hearing technologies tackle the supporting of hearing loss - which Oticon's innovative BrainHearing philosophy fully embodies.
"BrainHearing Philosophy reaches new levels with supportive evidence that the brain needs the full sound landscape in order to work in a natural way. This groundbreaking insight into how the brain processes sound will help determine how to best support the brain to reduce hearing loss-related health issues which have a significant impact on the quality of life" OTICON
Oticon has admitted that before now they have been unable to clarify what actually happens in the auditory cortex, which is the brain's prominent hearing area. In fact, it has been labelled 'the unknown' for quite some time by audiologists worldwide. However, various studies from other sources, Oticon's research team and collaborations with top universities have led to the unravelling of the brain's basic function of how it processes sound. A hurdle that introduced a breakthrough in hearing research insight and developed their BrainHearing technology even further.
Oticon's research team concluded a number of studies that looked into how our brains process the sounds we hear. This was done by using various methods of testing that indicated the brain has two subsystems. For clarity, these two systems work together to provide us with a complete soundscape which enables the brain to work to its full potential.
Well, the brain can only begin to correctly interpret a more in-depth meaning and evaluation of sound when sounds are in focus. Clarity and focus pave the way for a better speech understanding. This is what Oticon's research showed - for a person to focus correctly, they need to have access to a complete perspective of their soundscape. 'Orient' hearing is the most important subsystem and comes first, so it can process sound for the brain to then determine what to focus on or listen to - we now know this to be 'Focus' hearing.
"Rather than only focusing on the ears, we think brain first. It’s a journey of constant discovery – one that we’ve followed for decades – where we explore brain-related territories in audiology. We call this unique thinking BrainHearing" OTICON
Oticon believes that good neural codes are the key to unlocking the sounds we hear and making sense of them. Let me explain, when sounds are picked up in the inner ear they are switched to signals that are sent to our brains - which are the neural codes that are transmitted through the auditory nerve to the auditory cortex. These codes are important to both the 'Orient' and 'Focus' subsystems translating process of sound meaning, perception and to give us our full soundscape.
Oticon has successfully designed and created advanced hearing technologies over the years that are proven to assist the brain in basically making sense of sound. An innovative paradigm shift was introduced when they launched their open sound hearing aid - Oticon Opn. A hearing aid model that came in at a time when other manufacturers focused on designing technologies that tackled directionality, feedback, gain reduction and conventional compression - which affects the depth of sounds we hear and limits our accessibility. This already successful hearing aid range was then made even better with the introduction of the OpnS family also included Oticon's famous BrainHearing technology.
Not being open-minded about how we address hearing loss and restricting our approach in how we tackle it, reduces our natural soundscape. Increasing listening efforts significantly and forcing extra mental load onto the brain. In simple terms, because of this, the brain receives a sketchy impression of our soundscape and has to work harder to guesstimate - or 'fill in the gaps' as Oticon would say. This additional stress the brain is put through to make sense of sound can lead to an increased risk of cognitive decline and an increase in brain volume reduction.
By not sending a complete sound to the brain can cause a switch in priority and our perception of sound can change as our brains choose to focus on the visual instead. Further solidifying that if you have hearing loss that is untreated your brain starts to go weak, like any other unused muscle in the body. If you stop using a part of it or signals can no longer reach it - it will send it elsewhere.
Well-founded evidence also backs this and states that undiagnosed hearing loss leads to depression, anxiety, social isolation, dementia and you are more at risk of having serious falls. Oticon's BrainHearing technology supports the brain by offering a complete soundscape without limitations - offering a new perspective to the way we hear.
Read Next: Types of Hearing Loss
When we refer to a product as 'New', we mean that the product is new to the market.
When we refer to a product as 'Superseded', we mean that there is a newer range available which replaces and improves on this product.
When we refer to a product as an 'Older Model', we mean that it is has been superseded by at least two more recent hearing aid ranges.