Do you find yourself constantly repeating “what?” because it seems people have started speaking too quickly or mumbling more? Have you ever been at a family or social event reuniting with people you haven’t seen in some time and enjoying all the fun? A conversation starts up but all the noise and hubbub becomes too distracting and you begin to miss parts of what is being said?

What is happening is that our brain’s auditory system is not processing the information it receives from our ears as fast and as accurate as it did when we were younger. Remember, our brain starts aging when we’re in our mid-20s – yes.  In fact, hearing depends on our brains as much as our ears!

Having a brain that can immediately differentiate frequency sweeps is vital for us to understand speech because many sounds common in speech are actually made up of a series of sweeps. Consider the words “dawn” and “gone” or “bid” and “big” – note that only one sweep differentiates the /g/ from the /d/ in order for the brain to tell these words apart and this fine differentiations and accuracy is what we gradually lose as we age.






At the 2013 Baycrest International Brain Plasticity conference in Toronto, Dr. Nina Kraus presented her research study on how training our brains using scientifically-proven plasticity-based cognitive training can improve hearing. Her team showed that people who trained for 40 hours over 8 weeks with BrainHQ auditory exercises were able to pick out 41% more words from background noise compared to those who watched educational DVD’s and were quizzed on their contents after the same amount of time. TIME Magazine.

Her finding not only captured the attention of international scientists, she opened a new window of treatment for hearing clinicians and audiologists to assess and improve hearing by focusing on brain as much as ears. By speeding up the brain’s processing of sound information and improving the accuracy with which we take in that information, we increase the hearing level and its clarity. Following Dr. Kraus research, in recent years, this dual approach to improve hearing by improving both brain functions and ears have been practiced by the US hearing services as well as some clinics in Canada. So make sure your hearing specialist includes brain training in your plan too.

Hearing and Dementia

A number of other recent research studies have demonstrated a link between hearing loss and dementia. By simply not hearing properly there is less brain stimulation which can lead to further social isolation and both these factors can begin to reinforce one another.  Additionally, our brains are taking away resources from other areas to focus more on hearing, thus reducing the effectiveness of the memory and thinking parts of the brain.  As Dr. Henry Mahncke explains in this video, having a brain that is trained to hear clearly is the first step in forming memories.

Training your brain to hear better, record the sounds more precisely and store the memory clearly for later recall is possible. It might not just be old ears affecting your hearing. Please visit to learn about BrainHQ, the program that was used by Dr. Nina Kraus in the study – and try a free exercise.


DynamicBrain is the Canadian partner of Posit Science Corporation providing brain fitness program, BrainHQ, in English and French.