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How to Navigate Selective Hearing

Friday, May 5, 2017 1:54:54 PM Australia/Melbourne

How to Navigate Selective HearingChores. Do you remember growing up, knowing that a laundry list (no pun intended) would soon be handed down from the parental figures? You’d get the call from the other room, a foreboding shout of your name, and a request to come hither. More often than not, these tasks were the last thing that you wanted to do. You probably wanted to run outside with your friends, or catch-up on morning cartoons. You might have had a hankering for a sugary snack, or even a trip to the local shopping centre. Given the choice, who on earth would prefer to wash dishes or fold your bed linens? So, you tune out the request, start to eliminate the call, the ask from your parents. This, dear readers- is a textbook example of selective hearing.


While not as scientific as many other hearing impairments, selective hearing is very common and impacts millions of men, women, boys and girls around the world. By definition, it’s hearing loss by attention and takes place whenever we subconsciously block out the sounds that we don’t want to hear. We replace these with an alternative sound and/or stimulus, which sounds far more interesting to our brain.


What are other examples of sounds they we tend to tune out? We bet that you won’t be surprised by many, if any at all. Doorbells, when you know the individual on the other end is a solicitor; Traffic, if someone is giving a direction or alternative route? It’s important to note our brains aren’t choosing to block out specific noises; Instead they’re choosing to bring a specific alternate noise to the forefront. It’s a basic human behavior—to focus on what we want.


Selective hearing does present challenges. You’re dealing with both visual and auditory stimulus  which you’re aiming to understand and process. But as humans, (and other mammals too), we have limited brain bandwidth, limited power to digest what our senses tell us.


A visual stimulus situation explains this well. You’re at a large, well-known concert. You’re totally honed in on a very complicated dance routine that the main dancer and singer is performing. So tuned in are you, that you miss the pickpocket, dressed in all black, that targets a fellow concert-goer just a couple of rows in front of you.


Situations like the one above are sobering but realistic. They’re a great reminder why the work that audiologists focus on, is so important. There are simple ways to ensure that your brain remains sharp and on point. The first? Don’t give in to tools which aid the art of multitasking. Multitasking can be great for hectic days, or long to-do lists, but it can also be dangerous. Plan ahead, so that you’re not stressed out trying to accomplish multiple things at once.


When you think that you’re in doubt, give the Hearlink team a shout. We’d love to walk through different scenarios and determine the best coping mechanisms for your lifestyle and goals ahead.

Posted in Industry News By

Hearlink Admin