What you'll find on this page
- The importance of hearing with both ears.
- The benefits of hearing with a hearing aid and a hearing implant.
- One person's story about hearing with two implants.
The importance of hearing with both ears
Ears work as a team, and the brain needs both to process speech and locate sound direction.1 Hearing with both ears is known as binaural hearing. If you can only hear in one ear (unilateral hearing) it’s difficult to perform the tasks listed below.
Understand speech in noise
If you can only hear in one ear it makes it more difficult to pick up on quiet speech in a noisy environment.
Hearing with one ear also makes it more difficult for your brain to practice selective listening.2
Not being able to tell where sound is coming from causes problems.
For children, it can be hard to understand the teacher in class or the coach on the sports field.
For adults, driving through traffic can be difficult. For both, crossing a busy road could prove dangerous.
Avoid the head shadow effect
When you can only hear with one ear, sounds have to travel around your head so your 'good ear' can send them to the brain. As a result, sounds can be difficult to hear and understand clearly, especially in noise.1 This is particularily true for higher-frequency sounds.1
People who have lost hearing in one ear say they enjoy music less and describe it as sounding unpleasant, indistinct or unnatural, compared to how it sounded with both ears.3
Binaural hearing and speech development in children
Hearing with both ears helps children better understand speech and language. This is important for children’s learning and development.4
"Binaural hearing provides you with the ability to tell where sounds are coming from and to understand speech in noisy environments. It allows you to take advantage of brain mechanisms that can separate the speech you want to hear from other sounds in the area."
- Ruth Litovsky, Ph.D., Professor of Communication Disorders, University of Wisconsin, Director, Binaural Hearing Lab, Waisman Center
What is bimodal hearing?
Bimodal hearing combines the benefits of a hearing aid in one ear and a hearing implant in the other ear. You may find sounds are easier to hear and speech is easier to understand.4-6
The result can provide some of the following benefits:
improved speech understanding, especially in noise5,6
better determination where sounds are coming from7
enjoy music more with better sound appreciation.8
Studies show a big leap in hearing performance with a bimodal hearing solution compared to hearing aids alone.
Bilateral hearing: two hearing implants
If you have a bimodal solution but still struggle to understand speech, bilateral hearing implants could help you communicate effectively.