Did you know it was possible to improve your hearing in a noisy environment? A new study from researchers at UCSF shows that, by training our brains and hearing, we can actually improve our hearing in the face of distractions. The UCSF team developed a training technique for individuals to suppress distracting sounds. Over the course of the study, as subjects trained with this technique, their ability to hear and distinguish sounds in the face of distractions showed significant improvement.
“We show that by learning to discriminate amidst progressively more challenging distractions, we can diminish distractibility in rat and human brains,” says lead author Dr. Jyoti Mishra.
Perhaps even more interesting, the study indicates potential for reducing the negative effects of distractions in other areas as well:
“This same training could be generalized to more complex stimuli and across sensory modalities–such as auditory, visual, and tactile–to broadly benefit distractor processing in diverse impaired populations needing such training,” says senior author Dr. Adam Gazzaley
It would be huge news if modest amounts of training could help us to ignore distractions and improve our senses (which tend to erode as we age), potentially having massive implications for aging. As for how to train, one of Dr. Gazzaley’s colleagues at UCSF, Dr. Michael Merzenich, is affiliated with a company called Posit Science that offers a brain training app called “Brain HQ” that offers some practical visual and auditory training exercises (note that there are many “brain training” apps available on various websites and in Apple’s App Store).
Would you try some targeted training to improve your hearing? Please comment below!
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