Dr Kate Slade from the Neuroscience of Speech and Action Laboratory in Lancaster University’s Psychology Department is going to talk about her work. This is what she says about her talk:
“Think back to a time when you’ve been in a café or restaurant with a friend, an environment filled with chattering people, yet somehow you are able to tune into a single conversation, ignoring all the other environmental noise. The brain’s remarkable ability to filter out irrelevant noise is known as the ‘cocktail party effect’. It is just one example of the extraordinary processes involved in understanding speech. Although we might hear with our ears, we ‘listen’, process, and understand sounds with our brain.
“When hearing is impaired, the brain might have to work harder to de-code and understand sound signals received from the ear. This might affect how the brain works, and even cause people with hearing loss to avoid noisy social situations where listening is very difficult. There is evidence that hearing loss and social interaction may increase the risk of dementia, but that we can reduce this risk by alleviating hearing loss, and maintaining social interactions. More than ever social interaction is complicated and isolation is on the rise; what could be the impact of this pandemic on our hearing and memory function?
“In this talk, we will explore the sense of hearing from the ears, through to the brain. We will discover extraordinary ways in which the brain copes, and adapts when hearing is impaired, and what this means for our overall brain function. “