Mild hearing loss can also change the way the brain processes sound

Mild hearing loss can also change the way the brain processes sound

How does hearing loss in childhood affect brain development?

It’s well known that deafness in early childhood can cause constant changes in the way the brain processes sound.

But recent research has found that even mild to moderate hearing loss can cause changes in the way sounds are processed in the brain .

Researchers believe that the findings may have implications for how to screen babies’ hearing loss and how health care workers deal with children’s mild to moderate hearing loss.

The human brain processes sound through the central auditory system, which recognizes and gives meaning to auditory stimuli. The central auditory system develops during childhood, and auditory experience during this critical period has an important influence on the structure and function of the auditory pathways in the adult brain .

Throughout childhood, the structure and function of the auditory system that processes sounds in the brain develops with sound stimulation.

For example, the hearing system of children with severe hearing impairment may be reorganized to accommodate visual stimuli. So far, little is known about the effects of mild to moderate hearing loss in childhood.

Currently, a research team led by Dr. Lorna Halliday, Department of Cognitive and Brain Sciences, Cambridge University MRC, recruits 46 people diagnosed with permanent to study how mild to moderate hearing loss affects central auditory development in children Children with mild to moderate hearing loss and 44 children of the same age and normal hearing .

To evaluate the neural processing of sound, the researchers measured the brain’s response to various speech and non-speech stimuli. Participants were divided into younger age groups (8-11 years) and older age groups (12-16 years) to assess the effects of mild to moderate hearing loss during adolescence.

The findings found that hearing impaired children exhibited fewer brain responses than controls of the same age .

To verify the age-related effects, the researchers retested a subset of children in the younger group after six years. Although there is no evidence that hearing loss decreases with age, the children’s brain response to auditory stimulation decreases or disappears.

These findings suggest that mild to moderate hearing loss in childhood can cause changes in auditory cortex function .

“We know that children’s brains develop with sound stimulation, so even mild to moderate hearing loss can cause changes in the brain,” said Dr. Axelle Calcus, lead author of the study.

According to Dr. Lorna Halliday of the University of Cambridge, ” Current neonatal screening programs are good at detecting moderate to deep hearing loss, but it is not easy to detect mild hearing loss. This means that children with mild hearing loss may have to Only to be discovered in late childhood. “

In terms of language development and academic performance, hearing-impaired children often do not behave as well as those of their age. So early detection of mild hearing impairment gives you the opportunity to intervene early to limit the possibility of these brain changes and provide your child with the opportunity to develop normal language.

At the World Health Organization Global Deafness Cooperation Center Conference and China Hearing Forum, experts pointed out that the rehabilitation rate of hearing-impaired children in developed countries is as high as 80%, while China is only 29.7%.

To improve the rehabilitation rate of hearing impaired children, “three early” must be achieved: early detection, early diagnosis, and early intervention (early hearing compensation and early rehabilitation training). Whether it is an optional hearing aid or a cochlear implant, it is an effective measure to achieve hearing intervention!

It is generally believed that hearing aids are the first choice for hearing impaired children (especially mild to moderate hearing loss) due to their non-invasiveness, low cost, and fast selection process. For children with severe hearing loss and poor hearing aid performance, the child’s specific conditions can be used to consider whether it is suitable for cochlear implantation and when.

However, there is still a misunderstanding of some parents about “early intervention”: equating early intervention with cochlear implantation as early as possible! Even some parents do not use hearing aids for long periods of waiting for cochlear surgery, and it is really irresponsible for their children to delay their precious time.

What we need to make clear is that early intervention is not simply a hearing aid or cochlear implantation. Instead, it provides effective sound stimulation to the child’s hearing system and promotes children’s hearing and speech system development .

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