10 Brain Exercises for Seniors: Exercise #8 Fine Tuning

Have you ever been in a noisy room and felt the person you were talking to was mumbling a bit, or that they were confusing their words? Yes, it may very well be that you are talking to someone who mumbles, but there is a pretty good chance your brain is simply confusing similar sounding syllables. It is very disruptive to constantly ask someone to repeat themselves when you are trying to have a conversation or listen to their funny story but that is the situation more and more of us find ourselves in as we age. This can lead to frustration on both parts, and can distract the other person enough that they end up losing their train of thought.

When our ears are taking in sound, a specific set of neurons need to fire in precise sequence for us to hear words. When this system is working perfectly, the sound waves hit our inner ear and our brain will process this information into distinct syllables. However, as we age more “noise” is added to this process and when the fuzzy sound is received, the associated neurons may fire late for one sound which then makes a cascading effect for the rest of the word to be misheard. By confusing the first sound, our brain can then miss the next distinct sound or a syllable will be perceived as part of the next word. While our brain is very good at filling in the gaps during a conversation it is when we try to recall the conversation later that this loss of fidelity becomes apparent.

The goal of the Fine Tuning exercise is to help get these neurons back to performing their job properly. By using commonly confused syllables, such as /b/ and /d/ your brain will refine the process for hearing and recording these sounds more accurately. The exercise starts with slowly drawn out sounds and gradually increases in speed as your brain improves its ability to recognize, process and record these sounds. Eventually you will be back to hearing every sound in a sentence, finding that people who once mumbled are now speaking clearer because you can hear them loud and clear. This exercise is the first step to no longer having to ask everyone to repeat what they just said.

Free Brain Training Exercises
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Related Pages:
Time Magazine – Can you hear me now?
Video - Dr. Mahncke explains hearing & memory
Description of Fine Tuning Exercise


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