Pay attention: what happens to your brain?

As we get older, there are some key changes in the brain, that make it harder to hear in noise.  This is true even for people with normal hearing.  LACE training can reverse these changes by changing the brain. 

How does your brain change?

 One of the key ingredients to brain change is  attention.  When we pay close attention  during LACE training, we go back to childhood!

 How so?

 As Dr. Norman Doidge explains in the book, The  Brain that Changes Itself, we are so familiar with  the sponge-like quality of a child’s brain that we  don’t question it.  

A child’s brain pumps out huge amounts of BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). BDNF ‘turns on’ the nucleus basalis, which is responsible for memory formation. 

In children, the nucleus basalis is always ‘on.’

Once turned on, the nucleus basalis helps us to remember what we are experiencing.

This period of effortless learning winds down in our late teens, so that the adult brain can consolidate what we have learned, and discriminate between important data and distraction.

Dr. Michael Merzenich, a neuro-scientist, said that the nucleus basalis is like a teacher in the brain, saying, “Now this is really important—this you have to know for the exam of life.”

Dr. Bao et al found that in adults, the nucleus basalis can be stimulated when we pay close attention.

When the nucleus basalis is stimulated, we hold on to connections that are being formed in the brain.

In other words, when you pay close attention, you learn.  And if you pay close attention while doing targeted exercises to hear better in noise, you learn to hear better in noise. 

This is an exciting idea—your listening abilities are not fixed!  You can learn to hear better in noise. 

Related post:  Mindset and hearing loss

 

 

Sandra Vandenhoff is an audiologist with hearing loss, founder of HEARa, Hearing Strategies coach, speaker, and Canadian author, who loves to learn.   

 

 

 

Photo credit: © Dmitriy Shrionosov

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