With regards to hearing loss, have you ever wondered if there’s any truth to the “use it or lose it” theory? Have you ever questioned if hearing impairment means your ability to understand speech or decipher sounds will decrease over time? Researchers have been asking those same questions for more than 40 years. In searching for answers, they examined the phenomenon of “adult onset auditory deprivation,” or the systematic decrease in auditory performance over time as associated with the reduced availability of acoustic information. Or to put it in layman’s terms, the process in which humans struggle to recognize speech due to lack of auditory stimulation (hearing loss).
Despite the large body of literature surrounding adult onset auditory deprivation, there is still a lack of understanding regarding the causes and effects of this phenomenon. This article will discuss the concept of auditory deprivation with a focus on adults with bilateral hearing impairment.
One method of assessing this effect has been through the testing of individuals with bilateral hearing loss who use only one hearing aid. The expectation is that the unaided ear would be deprived of some auditory input as compared to the ear with the hearing aid. Previous studies used already established data to examine the effects of auditory deprivation. However, Palmer and colleagues believe that using retrospective data to measure auditory deprivation is problematic due to a historic lack of documentation on the severity of hearing loss, hearing aid use, and overuse of “outcome measures that are dependent on mid-tolow frequency sounds that the individuals have probably been hearing all along as opposed to outcome measures that tap the newly restored high-frequency hearing”
[original article: Starkey]