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Thread: Thoughts on the OPN Philosophy

  1. #1

    Default Thoughts on the OPN Philosophy

    I fairly familiar with the marketing and technical specifications of the OPN product line. I presently use the Alta Pro and have the past three years. One-to-one conversations are easy. And you say 'check.' Noisy, complex acoustic environments are troublesome. And you say 'check.' OPN philosophy saves the day with brain learning. I think I know what that means. So why is my brain (I am not alone in this) not learning with the Alta Pro? But it will with the OPN? I think I understand the sampling algorithms and frequency shifts. So why is brain learning going to happen with the OPN when it is not happening with the Alta Pro?

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    Don't believe everything you read. The term BrainHearing was created by an advertising agency Oticon hired to help promote the Alta product. It's not based on any scientific evidence. More info about the marketing campaign here:

    https://www.stonearchcreative.com/oticon/

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    Maybe the marketing person who came up with that particular phrase was dain bramaged
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  4. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by rasmus_braun View Post
    Don't believe everything you read. The term BrainHearing was created by an advertising agency Oticon hired to help promote the Alta product. It's not based on any scientific evidence. More info about the marketing campaign here:

    https://www.stonearchcreative.com/oticon/
    I don't think anybody claims that BrainHearing is a name based on scientific evidence. And I also don't think anybody will dispute either that there's no such thing as the cognitive ability of the brain to interpret and process sound. They may not called it BrainHearing but the concept is just pure common sense and definitely not snake oil. So if Oticon hired a marketing firm to slap a label on it and call it BrainHearing, then kudos to them for coming up with it so make it easier for people to understand and refer to it.

    On my first visit to my most recent audi, one of the things she said to me that is kind of eye opening to me, citing research paper so maybe it is based on scientific evidence to certain extent, is that if you delay getting help from wearing hearing aids when you really need it, it can actually be detrimental to your brain's ability to learn to recognize sounds and speech properly. So if you decide to wear hearing aids much later on in life, you can lose this cognitive function to a certain extent and it'll be much harder to retrain your brain to recover this cognitive function. I would totally buy into this.

    An extreme example of this is perhaps if you take a person who's deaf from birth and all of a sudden by some miracle give them the ability to hear. I'll bet you that they won't understand a word you say or even what all the sounds are because their brain has not developed the cognitive ability to understand and interpret any kind of sound. Of course this is different from hearing challenged people whose brain had already developed the cognitive function to hearing. But the question is whether it's like riding a bike or whether it's like unused muscles? Meaning that if you don't wear hearing aids for 20 years even though you needed it all that time, then all of a sudden you start wearing it, will your hearing acuities all come back easily right away like riding a bike? Or is it more like unused muscle such that your BrainHearing is totally out of shape and can't be retrained unless going through a long retraining curve again? I would think that it's somewhere in between these 2 extremes, but the longer you put off having proper aid to your hearing, the closer you may get to the state of hearing atrophy. That's because I think the brain doesn't store what it learns forever. If left unused for too long, it'll repurpose that part of the brain to use for something else. That's when the learning will be lost permanently and will need to be relearned.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-09-2017 at 04:45 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by VinceJ View Post
    I fairly familiar with the marketing and technical specifications of the OPN product line. I presently use the Alta Pro and have the past three years. One-to-one conversations are easy. And you say 'check.' Noisy, complex acoustic environments are troublesome. And you say 'check.' OPN philosophy saves the day with brain learning. I think I know what that means. So why is my brain (I am not alone in this) not learning with the Alta Pro? But it will with the OPN? I think I understand the sampling algorithms and frequency shifts. So why is brain learning going to happen with the OPN when it is not happening with the Alta Pro?
    I wouldn't say that the OPN saves the day with brain learning because that implies some kind of miracle cure which the OPN doesn't and can't deliver. No HA can provide a miracle cure. All the OPN can do and is designed to do is first and foremost let you hear everything. If you subscribe to the notion that although your hearing is impaired, your brain is not impaired, then the HA's job should only be to make up for your hearing loss and not interfere with any major sound processing, but instead let your brain do the processing because your brain can do a better job at it than any HA can. So while the OPN doesn't save the day, it acts as an enabler to your brain instead of as an inhibitor to your brain.

    And this is why you're not learning with the Alta Pro in noisy situation because with the Alta Pro, you automatically go to the Restaurant mode in noisy situation, so it inhibits/blocks out the noise for your brain already, so your brain never gets a chance to learn to block out the noise for itself. In a way, the old philosophy thinking that it's "helping" your brain out is actually giving it a crutch instead. If left alone, your brain will learn to remove the noise by itself, and probably will do that job a lot more effectively and naturally than the Alta Pro can do for it.

    This is why brain learning is going to happen with the OPN but not happening with the Alta Pro. The OPN gives the brain all the information available so the brain has a chance to develop its power. The Alta Pro takes away most of that information and only gives the brain very limited information. So the brain never gets a chance to learn with the Alta Pro.

    You're probably going to ask next so what if you just put your Alta Pro in Music mode (or a mode that lets you hear everything) 100% of the time. Wouldn't that be effective in helping your brain learn to tune out the noise by itself? I would say yes.

    Then you're going to ask why would you need to buy the OPN if your Alta Pro can do the same if you leave it in Music mode 100% of the time. I would say you probably don't need the OPN if you do this with your Alta Pro and your BrainHearing power gets developed and become effective after a few months of being used to this. If you're currently having success with speech in a noisy restaurant with your Alta Pro blocking the surrounding noise for you (in directional beam forming mode), I would surmise that you'll probably be successful eventually just the same with the Alta Pro in music mode once your brain hearing kicks in. Actually you'll probably be more successful because now you can understand speech from any direction and it's not just limited to the front only.

    But, if currently with your Alta Pro in directional mode you still can't understand speech very well, that's because even with all the surrounding noise blocked out by the Alta Pro (or by your brain hearing if your Alta Pro is in music mode), the speech itself is still tainted/embedded/contaminated/stuck with the noise and sometimes this noise is too loud that it masks out speech completely and your brain can't separate this out. There's a difference between sorting/blocking out all the noise NOT "stuck" to the speech, which is easier for the brain (or the Alta Pro) to do, than separating the out the noise that's stuck to the speech, which is harder for the brain to do and not possible for the Alta Pro to do. This is where the OPN can come in and clean up this "stuck" noise from the speech because of the new processing power it has. The Alta Pro can't do this because it doesn't have enough processing power. Even the brain can't do this, not because it doesn't have enough processing power, but because there's only one ear on each side, while the OPN has 2 mics front and back so it can create a noise model with the rear mic (which is the basis used for noise removal) while the brain is stuck with only 1 ear.

    So in short, by keeping your Alta Pro and using the Music mode (or no noise blocking mode) on it 100% of the time, I think you can help your brain develop its hearing power just like the OPN can. But in the 10% of the times (or maybe more or less depending on how often you're exposed to it) in very loud noisy environments, the OPN can do one up better than the Alta Pro because it does have the ability to separate the embedded loud noise from the speech where as your Alta Pro can't. And of course it doesn't limit itself to this noise removal action only when the noise gets very loud, it does it almost all the times. So this extra benefit can be enjoyed all the times, even if your brain can handle the noise laced speech at times, now it doesn't have to. This is probably the part about 20% less listening effort in their marketing brochure. I don't consider the ability to tune out noise and focus on speech "listening effort". If your brain hearing is used to it, that should be second nature requiring very little to no effort. The "listening effort" is when your brain tries to make out head to tail the speech that's heavily laced with very loud noise. And this is where the OPN can step in to help with its noise removal approach via its noise modelling / noise cancellation strategy.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-09-2017 at 04:53 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  6. #6

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    it's said that you loose your word regonition further if you don't get fitted with aids when you have a significant enough loss. Having a wider arc might mean that your brain has to filter instead of the HAs, that also can have a positive effect on how you train your brain. Don't think it is complete BS. surely everything people say here is speculation and adding up some "facts" will still might not end up in anything that is real, we don't have the equipment or the study group to prove anything, we can only try to make our superstition sound reasonable to feel better, which is not really getting anybody anywhere.

    let the people who wear the aids decide what it's really about and if they will trust that brand in the future.
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  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gery_R View Post
    let the people who wear the aids decide what it's really about and if they will trust that brand in the future.
    I agree with this. I know of a few members on this forum wearing OPNs but still struggling with it in certain situation although they like it in other scenarios. Brain hearing is not a guaranteed success for everyone, it may work out well for some and not so well for others, depending on their age and condition and all kinds of factors.

    I would say that if somebody is curious whether the brain hearing approach will work for them or not, just leave their existing HAs in music mode on 100% of the times for at least 3 months and see if their brain will learn to adapt and support this mode well or not. Don't rush out and buy the OPN and find that the brain hearing concept doesn't work well for them no matter what they try.

    Also remember that if you rarely are exposed to noisy environments just because of how your lifestyle is, your brain hearing will also get less chance to work out so don't walk into a noisy restaurant and expect your brain to perform miracle if it hasn't been exposed and exercised enough. And don't blame the OPN in this case because the OPN can only help enable brain hearing if you help get the exposure to the noise. If you're only exposed to noisy environments once in a while, it's probably better to stick with the traditional directional beam forming mode.
    Last edited by Volusiano; 05-09-2017 at 06:00 PM.
    HA wearer since the 1990's > Rexton Insite+ CIC (2011-2016) > Oticon OPN RITE (2016)

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  8. #8
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    Well, it a lot more complicated issue than this guesswork. My original loss was the typical aging loss. Then I experienced Meniere's. My WR went from the 90's to the teens. I had hearing aids when that happened so throw out the not having causing the problem.

    ENTs can't treat this disease. Nobody knows the exact cause. Treatment is limited to the symptom. Many have their story that goes beyond "normal" hearing loss. Really there is no normal to easily embrace.

    When you look at the real posts here, results are all over the board. Hearing aids fails us under certain situations. Noise success varies across all the brands. Room acoustics, voice timbre, wind, professional sound mixing promoting effects over voice and so on give us varying results with the same mind processing.

    Advertising speak may help marketing. I doubt it is a clear cut as the ads tell us.

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  9. #9

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    I, as well as other forum members I am sure, appreciate the cogent comments. I don't presently have alternative modes programmed into the Alta Pro. I realize that it is common do so and I that am the outlier. Trying that may prove enlightening and dampen my craving for "magic" which 74 years warns me to be skeptical of. Ultimately I am the decision maker but I do appreciate the thoughtful comments and hope they serve others as well. In another year the picture will likely be clearer.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by VinceJ View Post
    I, as well as other forum members I am sure, appreciate the cogent comments. I don't presently have alternative modes programmed into the Alta Pro. I realize that it is common do so and I that am the outlier. Trying that may prove enlightening and dampen my craving for "magic" which 74 years warns me to be skeptical of. Ultimately I am the decision maker but I do appreciate the thoughtful comments and hope they serve others as well. In another year the picture will likely be clearer.
    'This isn't the magic you seek....'

    The mental plasticity and the desire to deal with multiple sound sources is a determining factor here. The ability to focus on several conversations at once in amongst several noise sources appears to provide a better outcome for some people than others. While other people seem to work better with the forward focus on fewer people talking.

    That doesn't mean you neatly fall into one type or another - hence destination based aids which mix the optimum performance to maintain the best signal ratio. However, pattern matching your listening needs my be a better way of determining the type of aid that suits you over the basic audiogram.
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