Your Hearing Can be Improved by Research – Here’s How


One of hearing loss’s most perplexing mysteries may have been solved by scientists from the famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and the future design of hearing aids might get an overhaul based on their findings.

The long standing idea that voices are singled out by neural processing has been debunked by an MIT study. Tuning into specific sound levels may actually be managed by a biochemical filter according to this study.

How Background Noise Effects Our Ability to Hear

Only a small portion of the millions of people who suffer from hearing loss actually use hearing aids to deal with it.

Although a hearing aid can give a tremendous boost to one’s ability to hear, environments with a lot of background noise have typically been an issue for people who wear a hearing improvement device. A person’s ability to discriminate voices, for example, can be drastically limited in settings like a party or restaurant where there is a continuous din of background noise.

If you’re a person who is afflicted with hearing loss, you very likely know how annoying and upsetting it can be to have a one-on-one conversation with someone in a crowded room.

For decades scientists have been investigating hearing loss. The way that sound waves travel through the ear and how those waves are distinguished, due to this body of research, was believed to be well understood.

Scientists Identify The Tectorial Membrane

But the tectorial membrane wasn’t identified by scientists until 2007. You won’t see this microscopic membrane made of a gel-like substance in any other parts of the body. What really fascinated scientists was how the membrane supplies mechanical filtering that can decipher and delineate between sounds.

Minute in size, the tectorial membrane rests on delicate hairs inside the cochlea, with small pores that manage how water moves back and forth in reaction to vibrations. It was noted that the amplification created by the membrane caused a different reaction to different tones.

The frequencies at the highest and lowest range seemed to be less affected by the amplification, but the study revealed strong amplification in the middle tones.

Some scientists believe that more effective hearing aids that can better distinguish individual voices will be the result of this groundbreaking MIT study.

The Future of Hearing Aid Design

For years, the basic design principles of hearing aids have remained relatively unchanged. A microphone to detect sound and a loudspeaker to amplify it are the basic components of hearing aids which, besides a few technology tweaks, have remained unchanged. Regrettably, that’s where one of the design’s drawbacks becomes evident.

All frequencies are boosted with an amplification device and that includes background noise. Another MIT researcher has long believed tectorial membrane research could lead to new hearing aid designs that offer better speech recognition for wearers.

The user of these new hearing aids could, in theory, tune in to an individual voice as the hearing aid would be able to tune distinct frequencies. With this design, the volume of those sounds would be the only sounds boosted to aid in reception.

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Call us if you believe you might be dealing with some amount of hearing loss. Our mission is to provide you with answers to your questions about hearing loss and the benefit of using hearing aids.


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