Socially Important Sounds Can Improve Your Hearing

The emotional and mental impacts of social isolation have been well-researched by the scientific community, but new research has also shown a correlation between isolation and hearing ability. A Georgia State University research team has conducted a study to explore the relationship between our exposure to speech and auditory health.

Tree frogs have relatively simple forms of communication, so researches observed how social isolation impacts their sound perception. Two groups of frogs, a control and a test group, were subjected to varying sounds for ten consecutive nights. The test group heard their species’ calls as they would in their natural habitat while the control group heard a series of random sounds.

The species-specific calls had a great social significance, just as human speech sounds help facilitate our social behavior. The green tree frogs were more sensitive so species-specific sounds than the control group when they were exposed to meaningful calls throughout the study.

The researchers demonstrated that increased social interaction directly links to the capacity to understand socially meaningful sounds. These sounds can even physically modify the ear to increase sensitivity. However, the precise location of this change is unknown.

This research is important in terms of the treatment of socially isolated humans, like individuals in prisons and nursing homes, who likely communicate with others in a meaningful way less frequently. It is also significant for individuals experiencing hearing loss who struggle to hear speech frequencies. When our exposure to speech sounds is limited, our ability to perceive them suffers.

In order to keep your auditory system healthy, experts recommend including hearing loss tests as a part of your preventive health routine. Regular consultations with your audiologist will allow you to identify a potential hearing impairment in its early stages. By being proactive about your hearing health, you can use hearing aids to prevent hearing loss from becoming more severe. To find a provider of hearing aids in Lehi or Provo, Utah, we encourage you to contact our physical therapists at 801.373.7438.