Your Two Ears Process Sound Differently

December 6, 2016

The concept of our “two brains” is nothing new in the scientific community. We often attribute certain behaviors and skills to a specific side, or hemisphere, of our brain. Research regarding hemisphere lateralization has shown that the different halves of our brain process information differently. Though it may be somewhat of an overgeneralization, our left “analytical” hemisphere tends to process information by using small details to craft an entire image. Meanwhile, our right “intuitive” hemisphere sees a whole image first and then breaks down the details. We also know that the left brain controls the right side of the body and the right brain governs the left. This relationship has been explored in connection to our hearing.

sound-waves

The way our ears hear differently from one another has to do with the way they comprehend sound. This is due to the fact that hearing is not solely consigned to our ears. Rather, it is a process that begins with the ears and ends in the brain. The sounds captured by the right ear will primarily be transmitted to the left side of the brain for interpretation and vice versa.

Researchers have conducted studies to better understand the differences in auditory processing for each ear. UCLA and University of Arizona paired up to execute a six-year study on sound processing in newborns. They determined that the left side of the brain provides more amplification for sustained sounds like music, while the right ear amplifies speech-related sounds. Significantly, this research supports the hypothesis that our ears are mechanically structured to distinguish between different types of sounds and transmit to the brain accordingly.

This research has a significant impact on the hearing-impaired community. Their findings show that an uneven hearing loss can decrease the capacity for speech and language development. Individuals experiencing asymmetrical hearing loss may also have inferior music and speech comprehension. Because of the differences in sound processing, both ears need to be treated in order to achieve a balanced sound experience.

The ability to hear plays an essential role in communication. By treating both ears for hearing loss, individuals can help preserve their hearing ability and avoid complications that derive from an unbalanced impairment. Hearing aids can help restore balance to your hearing and ensure you’re able to hear the entire spectrum of sound. To learn more about hearing loss, contact The Ear Institute today at 760.565.3900.