"I Hear but Don't Understand"
The statement above is one that Audiologists hear almost every day. While this complaint is a common one, its cause is not always so easy to determine. There are quite a number of different reasons that may give rise to such a complaint. A high-frequency loss of hearing is one potential reason, but another is the individual's Cognitive Hearing ability, often becoming especially noticeable as we age.
What do we mean when we say "Cognitive Hearing?" This term refers to the complex set of brain processes that occur between the initial point when a sound is heard and the point where one is able to grasp the meaning or significance of that sound. This takes place in a very short period of time, and requires some very complex brain activity.
There are many factors involved in hearing and understanding what you hear. The sense of hearing is actually a very complex process. We hear sounds through a series of vibrations and signals sent from the nerve of the inner ear to the brain. This is where incoming speech is processed, and at this point it relates to the understanding rather than the hearing.