Does Having to Concentrate Just to Understand Ever Keep You from Remembering Conversations?

I have single-sided deafness, which makes it hard for me to hear in many situations, even with a good hearing aid.

Sometimes when I’ve concentrated enough to hear just about everything in a conversation, I find that I don’t remember it well afterward. I think this may be because all my effort went into just hearing the words and understanding, rather than into being able to remember.

Has anyone else experienced something similar?


Yeah, I think it’s common. We have limited resources to process conversation and encode memorieis and we just use more resources. A similar thing for me is following the plot of movies and tv shows because I’m constantly switching between watching the show and reading the subtitles.


Yes I experience this. It drives me mad as I can never understand a conversation.


After a long day, especially at work, my concentration levels are about nil, I seem to be mentally, and physically drained with the sheer effort of listening, and straining to hear conversations, I end up dog tired…. It is hard work this listening lark, and recalling anything said, is perhaps a challenge? Cheers Kev :wink:


Sorry I’ve never really noticed this. Maybe if you focused more on a person’s lips it would reduce the intensity you’re putting into trying to understand each word being said. Of course face masks kill that option


Do you have CROS-aids?

Here’s a slide from a talk about hearing, I attended in Denmark. It claims that you have a constant total amount of brain resources available for hearing (Høre), understanding (Forstå) and remembering (Huske), which means that in a non-optimal hearing situation - whatever the reason - it will be harder to understand and remember what has been said.


It’s just not fun anymore, it is not relaxing to watch a movie or TV program. I end up not watching nearly as much as I used to. I read more, do craft projects. In some ways, more isolating. In other ways, more productive.


Yes - it’s very difficult to interact socially because I am trying so hard to follow what is said that conversations seem to move too fast for me to follow. I am always one step behind.


Yes, the issue you describe is quite familiar. I’m always behind the conversation, can’t get close to thinking of a response to what has been said, and can’t recall the salient points later even minutes later. So?

From my perspective it is better to read a book, tinker with hobbies, or play with the cats. There is no law saying that one must talk to people - especially people who mumble, or wear masks, or turn their faces away when not masked.

I’m too grateful just to be on this side of the lawn to be upset at not understanding or recalling verbal interactions that even the other party will not recall in a day or two. It is all relative.


Yeah I’ve only had loss for a few months but the word recognition drop makes listening a lot more work. I find I’m tired of hearing by the end of the day ;). However for TV I’ve been using subtitles for almost everything and that helps quite a bit.


I’ve never experienced not recalling a conversation (even if I strain to hear it - which seems to somehow BURN the words into my brain even more). But, put any phone to my right ear and it’s like I’m processing a totally different language, no kidding!

I’ve always favored my LEFT ear for the phone, so when I wore my older Audeo B-Direct aids, I had them stream to the LEFT ear (they are not stereophonic on phone calls!). I can hardly describe the utter befuddlement of conversation coming to my RIGHT ear! It’s as if that ear is not even connected to my brain. Perhaps it’s a left brain/right brain thing going on. Maybe I should exercise the right ear more and FORCE myself to put a phone to my right ear, but holy cow, I can’t imagine the garbled words I’d be trying to make sense of.

For now, I’m EVER so grateful to have stereophonic streaming on the phone or with a TV Connector with my Marvel aids.

I should also add tho, that all the years I worked and wore aids, I always took COPIOUS notes of the meetings and business-related conversations I had with people. I keep a daily journal, so writing comes SUPER easy to me, and I enjoy going back and reading those detailed accounts years later.

I definitely find subtitled movies inferior to audio-streamed movies cuz I miss the facial nuances and scenery on the screen if I’m staring at the bottom line subtitles.


A bit off-topic but by any chance, are you left-handed @1bluejay? It seems that language is usually processed on the left side of the brain (90% of people are like this), which makes people prefer their right ear to “understand” what’s being said.

Of the other 10% who process language through the right side of the brain and favour their left ear, most of them are left-handed. I guess this preference is even more pronounced if you have hearing loss, as it’s even harder to understand speech

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Hearing loss requires adjustments. TV have closed caption or can stream directly to aids. Many theaters now provide closed caption. You need to inform people that you can’t hear. But nothing is perfect. One of the main problems for hearing impaired is that they tend to use their loss as an excuse and more and more isolate themselves from the real world. That’s not a knock on anyone. Instead it’s a caution. My hearing is a lot worse than a lot of people on this forum but I have learned that as soon as I can’t hear something I speak up and explain my situation. I’ve also been the victim of rude remarks from people who feel my loss is an inconvenience to them. Screw them. At the same time I know a lot of deaf people mostly from my job and I don’t see any of them letting them being deaf hold them back. It’s not easy being hard of hearing but giving up is

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I don’t really find this since if I’ve concentrated enough and the environment atmospherics are clear enough to understand the conversation, then I can recall it well enough. So there are possibly two issues: hearing and memory. My problem is mainly missing bits of the conversation so I lose track of the conversation and loose concentration, hence I didn’t catch enough to understand and therefore can’t recall it well.


@ed.winograd - yes, indeed, I experience this. 6 months ago I received my first CI. I wear a hearing aid in my left ear, but only have about 40% speech recognition in that ear. However, I am doing very well with my CI - over 90%. I have found that, even though I can hear the words on TV now, I seem to still have a problem giving up the subtitles. The trouble is, as you know, you are processing 3 things - reading, hearing, and watching. That’s a lot to manage in real time! It makes it hard to keep up with the plots sometimes. Strangely, now that I can hear again, I actually do better with audio books, or even telephone conversations, than watching video - because I only need to process ONE thing. I haven’t had a lot of opportunity during these long covid months for lengthy conversations, but I did recently have to meet with my elderly mom’s care team (all masked) for an hour long conference, and weeks later, I can recall virtually all of that meeting. So, I take that as a huge improvement.

Just before my implant, I was given cognition tests as part of a research project by the implant team. They were very much like the tests my mother was given as her dementia progressed. Needless to say this was a little disconcerting for me! I will be tested again at a year. Even though I was assured I did well, I have no doubt that I will perform better next time. Straining to hear every word, remembering a list of words which had to be repeated back later in the session, remembering all the instructions, and following through with the tasks … it was quite a challenge with limited hearing. I will be very interested to know the results of this research study when it’s complete.


I haven’t noticed difficulty remembering–significant–conversations (as opposed to idle chit-chat). But I do recall feeling the tension in my neck and shoulders begin to relax when I first started wearing hearing aids. Maybe the stress of “intense listening” affects us differently?

Concentration versus understanding could be the issue about remembering. Two different things.

If you concentrate and understand what was said memory has been good for me but if there is any misunderstanding in this conversation remembering what has been said starts to break down. Filling in the blank words that are not understood creates confusion.

Interesting thread.


Yes. I am looking forward to a device that will provide subtitles where ever you point it. There are a few apps available for phones now, but the technology is not quite there. Probably in the next few years…


I have to wear aids but I don’t want to get to the point I have to use captions and carry another device around to read the conversations.

LOL! I’m right-handed (altho I often hold a fork in my LEFT hand). But how curious about right-brain speech processing with left-handed people! I know for a fact I am from planet Mars, so it’s quite likely I’m in that less than a fraction of a percent of people here with RIGHT brain processing who are also RIGHT handed.

My condition is quite common on Mars!


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