It is relatively common for listeners to "hear" sounds that are not really there. In fact, it is the brain's ability to reconstruct fragmented sounds that allows us to successfully carry on a conversation in a noisy room. Now, a new study helps to explain what happens in the brain that allows us to perceive a physically interrupted sound as being continuous. The research, published by Cell Press in the November 25 issue of Neuron provides fascinating insight into the constructive nature of human hearing. "In our day-to-day lives, sounds we wish to pay attention to may be distorted or masked by background noise, which means that some of the information gets lost.
A new study from Canada shows that our skin helps us hear speech by sensing the puffs of air that the speaker produces with certain sounds. The study is the first to show that when we are in conversation with another person we don't just hear their sounds with our ears and use our eyes to interpret facial expressions and other cues (a fact that is already well researched), but we also use our skin to "perceive" their speech. The study is the work of professor Bryan Gick from the Department of Linguistics, University of British Columbia, in Vancouver, Canada and PhD student Donald Derrick. A paper on their work was published in Nature on 26 November.
Parents and children giving or receiving an electronic device with music this holiday season should give their ears a gift as well by pre-setting the maximum decibel level to somewhere between one-half and two-thirds maximum volume. Any sound over 85 decibels (dBs) exceeds what hearing experts consider to be a safe level and some MP3 players are programmed to reach levels as high as 120 dBs at their maximum. Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center Director Ron Eavey, M.D., who also chairs the Department of Otolaryngology, says the new generation is especially susceptible to hearing loss when they listen to music with headphones or earbuds either too long or too loud.
A new study led by scientists in The Netherlands has revealed the mechanisms through which the brain creates "auditory continuity illusion", where a physically interrupted sound is heard as continuing through background noise; thus when we try to listen to conversation in a noisy room, the brain fills in the gaps between interrupted sound fragments to create what we perceive as a continuous sound. The study was the work of senior author Dr Lars Riecke from the Department of Cognitive Neuroscience at Maastricht University and colleagues and was published online in the journal Cell Press on 25 November. It is quite common for us to "hear" sounds that aren't really there: human hearing is a constructive process.
A team led by scientists from The Scripps Research Institute has discovered a genetic cause of progressive hearing loss. The findings will help scientists better understand the nature of age-related decline in hearing and may lead to new therapies to prevent or treat the condition. The findings were published the September 3, 2009, in an advance, online issue of the American Journal of Human Genetics, a publication of Cell Press. "It is thought that mutations in several hundred genes can lead to deafness, " said team leader Ulrich Mueller, a professor in the Department of Cell Biology and member of the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology at Scripps Research.
Canada is a top-ranked country in terms of literacy levels, but almost 50% of Canadian adults have difficulties with reading and numbers, according to the Movement for Canadian Literacy. To improve literacy levels, it is important for Canadians to develop literacy skills at a young age, and audiologists and speech-language pathologists have an important role to play in this area. More than 5, 400 speech-language pathologists, audiologists and supportive personnel are represented by the national professional association the Canadian Association of Speech-Language Pathologists and Audiologists (CASLPA). CASLPA members foster improved literacy in their daily work, including speech-language pathologists working in early speech development or emergent literacy programs and audiologists who diagnose early hearing problems.