Catching The Waves
Through a series of carefully coordinated functionalities, the human mind intercepts and interprets sound through the ear. Some of the details captured when sound waves hit the ear include pitch, volume, and sound quality.
Popular trivia questions have taught us the parts of the ear: the smallest bones in the body are the stapes, incus, and malleus, also known as the stirrup, anvil, and hammer bones because of their shapes.
Beyond trivia questions, it’s vital to understand how the ear works and how sound wave perception can change from one person to another. Additionally, with increased information about the ear and hearing, you’re in a better position to care for your ears.
The visible part of the ear is known as the pinna. The shape of this part of your ear is specially adapted to capture sound waves efficiently. While the human ear is not as sensitive as that of other animals, such as dogs and cats, it picks up even the subtlest sound-waves. But extended exposure to loud sound-waves, such as loud music can damage the ear. Soldiers exposed to gunshots on the battlefield and musicians with loud instruments complain about decreased ear functionality over time.
It is essential to care for your ears by controlling loud sound waves when you can.
For instance, when listening to music on earphones, you should find the proper listening range based on the brand and make. This will help you preserve the sharpness of your hearing ability even as you advance in age.
If a tire burst nearby you don’t have a choice on whether you hear it or not. In fact, the sudden burst of sound waves from the explosion will quickly get your attention.
However, in ideal situations, the brain can actually determine which waves to concentrate on and the ones to ignore. For example, regardless of the loud noise and numerous interruptions at a party, you can focus on one person’s voice all through. Being in a musical concert can also elicit the same experience; when a band is playing, you can single out individual instruments or voices.
While fascinating, little is actually known about this ability, commonly referred to as the cocktail party problem. However, it is evident the ability diminishes with age.
When you’re asleep, most of your functions operate on minimal capacity. This inactivity helps you recharge and power up for a new day. However, while most of your other parts and organs are asleep, the ears continue listening. For safety.
True, you don’t remember much of what you hear when asleep. That’s because the brain chooses to filter out what it considers disruptive noise. A clear illustration is when you have regular traffic or a train passing near you at night. In most cases, the brain filters out this noise. At the same time, the brain responds to an alarm sound.
The ear and its operation are one of the most interesting subjects in the human body. These fascinating facts help shine a light on the integral under-workings of the ear and shows why you should take care of your ears to enjoy the gift of hearing and quality of sound, even in old age.
Always took pretty good care of my ears as a player. But now I’ve got tinnitus thru no reason I can tell. It’s a definite case of the brain most times ignoring the whoosh and whistle I hear. Interesting but I’d lose it in a second if possible. Sometimes interferes with hearing speech and some higher notes.
Always wear protection for your ears and watch how loud and how long you play sound in your headphones/earbuds. It may not sound loud but time builds up with certain sound above a threshold. Only get two original. The abused ones suck.
Thanks for the reminder!!!! I regret abusing my hearing in the early iPod days. Now, as a teacher, I have to explain to students how important it is to preserve their hearing.