Do you have trouble following along with what your date says at Gather in Omaha on Howard Street and in other environments with a lot of background noise? If so, you may have hearing loss and an overwhelmed brain.
A study published last year uncovered that background noise can cause too many brain cells to fire in certain populations. We review more about this study and what it means for you below.
About the Study
The study, entitled “Decreased Modulation of Population Correlations in Auditory Cortex Is Associated with Decreased Auditory Detection Performance in Old Mice,” was published in the Journal of Neuroscience in December 2022. Researchers are from Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland.
The researchers recorded the activity of 8,078 neurons (brain cells) in the auditory cortex of mice, including 12 older mice (ages 16 to 24 months) and 10 younger mice (ages two to six months).
They conditioned the mice to lick a water spout each time a tone was played. They played the tones both over silence and over background noise.
Whenever the tone was played over silence, the old and young mice licked the water spout consistently every time. But when background noise was introduced, the old mice had trouble detecting the tone. In some cases, they licked the water spout even before the tone was played.
The researchers saw that the old mice had twice as much neuroactivity compared to the young mice when the background noise was present. In the young mice, activity increased in some areas, while in others, it decreased.
This demonstrates that the old mice could not suppress the effects of the background noise on their neuroactivity; however, the young mice could.
The authors acknowledge that more research is needed on this topic, but they can also make hypotheses based on their research. One hypothesis is that mammals’ brains have flexible learning potential, enabling them to be taught to focus on individual sounds amid distracting background noise.
This is hopeful information for people with hearing loss who have trouble hearing in complex listening situations.
For more information or to schedule an appointment with a hearing expert, call Ear Specialists of Omaha & Bellevue today.