Binaural hearing, or hearing with both ears, helps us localize sounds. This is why we have two ears! It also allows us to precisely focus on what we want to hear by letting us perceive certain sounds, like speech, louder and clearer while ignoring others (e.g. a car passing by). A few of the most important binaural processes include binaural redundancy, binaural squelch, and binaural directed listening.
When we hear a sound in both ears, it’s like we hear the same sound twice. This repetition helps our brain create an improved perceptual image of the sound.
For people with hearing loss, this effect is significantly reduced. When patients wear hearing aids, it helps bring back the benefit of binaural redundancy.
In situations where there is both noise and speech for us to distinguish, hearing with both ears helps our brain to decide which sounds to prioritize (and listen to); this makes speech seem louder than it actually is.
If you have hearing loss, this effect is significantly reduced. Wearing two hearing instruments can help restore the natural benefits of binaural squelch.
Binaural Directed Listening
In noisy situations with many different sounds competing for your brain’s attention, hearing with both ears helps our brain choose the one single sound source we’re interested in, and focus on it.
People with hearing loss struggle to make these distinctions. Hearing aids are designed to restore our ability to perform binaural directed listening.