Why Do Hearing Aids Fail to Restore Normal Auditory Perception?

Trends Neurosci. 2018 Apr;41(4):174-185. doi: 10.1016/j.tins.2018.01.008. Epub 2018 Feb 12.


Hearing loss is a widespread condition that is linked to declines in quality of life and mental health. Hearing aids remain the treatment of choice, but, unfortunately, even state-of-the-art devices provide only limited benefit for the perception of speech in noisy environments. While traditionally viewed primarily as a loss of sensitivity, hearing loss is also known to cause complex distortions of sound-evoked neural activity that cannot be corrected by amplification alone. This Opinion article describes the effects of hearing loss on neural activity to illustrate the reasons why current hearing aids are insufficient and to motivate the use of new technologies to explore directions for improving the next generation of devices.

Keywords: auditory system; hearing aids; hearing loss; speech perception.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Acoustic Stimulation / methods
  • Animals
  • Auditory Perception / physiology*
  • Deafness / diagnosis
  • Deafness / physiopathology*
  • Hearing Aids*
  • Hearing Loss / diagnosis
  • Hearing Loss / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Speech Perception / physiology*