Understanding Oticon Intent: A Brain First Approach to Hearing Aids

Hearing Aids

At Knox Audiology, when a new hearing aid comes onto the market, we look to see how it may benefit our clients. We ask how the latest technology can help our clients achieve their hearing and communication goals. While hearing aid technology is often similar from one brand to another, sometimes a brand takes a different approach. That is what Oticon has done with the Oticon Intent hearing aid incorporating their BrainHearing™ technology. Are you wondering what BrainHearing™ is? We have compiled this blog to explain what BrainHearing™ means and why it is important when it comes to hearing aid technology.

The Brain’s Role in Hearing

The brain plays an integral part in hearing. Without the brain, it would not be possible to process sounds and make sense of them. When we hear normally, we hear many sounds around us—many more than we notice. But our brain processes the information to focus on what we want and need to listen to. There are two subsystems within the brain’s hearing center – these are the orient subsystem and the focus subsystem. The orient subsystem scans all the sounds in the environment to create a picture of all the sounds around us. This system also starts to separate sounds, providing the brain with good information for the focus subsystem. The focus subsystem allows a person to focus, that is, to choose which sounds to listen to. While focusing on the relevant sounds, the focus subsystem filters out irrelevant sounds. The orient subsystem stays active so that if a different, important sound appears in the environment, the focus subsystem can switch to the new sound. In this way, these two systems continuously interact to allow optimal, focused listening to essential sounds.

Oticon’s Brain-First Approach

Many hearing aids are ‘ear-focused’ – that is they focus on the ear and how it deals with sounds. As a result, these systems often focus on a specific type of sound, such as the person talking in front of you, and do not give the brain access to the full scope of sounds in the environment. This approach does not support the way the brain works naturally and can cause issues such as requiring increased listening effort to hear, an increased mental load, and reorganisation of the brain. These changes can then lead to significant issues such as social isolation and depression, poor balance and fall-related injuries, accelerated cognitive decline, and dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. These are highly problematic consequences of the ‘ear first’ approach to hearing aids and can negatively affect a person’s quality of life.

To avoid these issues, Oticon takes a ‘brain first’ approach with hearing aids. Oticon considers the way the brain naturally makes sense of sounds. As part of this, Oticon technology is designed to give the wearer’s brain access to all meaningful sounds so it can naturally orient itself and choose what to focus on, just like it would for a normal hearing person. This approach is supported by scientific evidence that shows the brain can handle having access to all the sounds in the environment. The benefits of this approach include better hearing, reduced listening effort, and a more natural, pleasant, and balanced soundscape. These results from a BrainHearing™ approach are much more desirable than those from an ‘ear first’ approach to hearing aid technology.

While Oticon has taken a ‘brain first’ approach to hearing aid technology for some time, they have continued to develop this technology in their latest hearing aid, the Oticon Intent. The Oticon Intent hearing aids incorporate various technologies, including Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology. These brain-friendly hearing aids support the way your brain naturally works.

At Knox Audiology, we take pride in our team of university qualified and experienced audiologists, who are committed to providing trusted, friendly, and professional hearing services, catering to all your unique hearing needs.

If you have a hearing loss and are interested in Oticon’s BrainHearing™ technology in their latest Oticon Intent hearing aids, contact us at Knox Audiology by calling 03 9800 5697 or contact us online.