Audiology is a young science and there is still much to learn about the ears and hearing. Here are few things hearing scientists have been working on recently.
At the University of Connecticut they have been investigating how humans judge the distance of a sound. We are good at figuring out which direction a sound is coming from, whether it's hearing where the keys fell or a baby crying. How we judge the distance of a sound has been a mystery. Researchers found that echoes and fluctuations in volume are the cues we use to figure the distance between us and the source of a noise.
The Australian National University (ANU) has shed new light on synesthesia -- the effect of hearing colors, seeing sounds and other cross-sensory phenomena. These findings provide a better understand of synesthesia. Those with synesthesia have stronger connections between different brain areas, particularly between what we think of as the language part of the brain and the color part of the brain. Those connections have a triggering effect, where a stimulus in one part of the brain causes activity in the other.
The University of Southern California, Health Sciences Department, has been looking into ways to help children born without a cochlea or hair cells (hearing nerve fibers). Individuals who do not have a cochlea cannot be helped with hearing aids or cochlear implants. These children are unable to hear sound, no matter how loud. The Auditory brainstem implant (ABI) is considered revolutionary because it stimulates nerves directly in the brainstem, completely bypassing the inner ear.
Life sounds great! Enjoy every moment!
Jane Kukula, Au.D.Paula Webster, M.A.