October 2, 2014
Source: Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen (LMU)
Barely perceptible low-frequency signals nevertheless activate measurable responses in our auditory circuits. Neurobiologists have now characterized the remarkable impact of low-frequency sounds on the inner ear.
Sources of low-frequency signals are a prominent feature of technologically advanced societies like our own. Wind turbines, air-conditioning systems and heat pumps, for instance, can generate such sounds. Hearing thresholds in this region of the acoustic spectrum vary from one person to the next. "But the assumption that the ear is unresponsive to low-frequency sounds because these are seldom consciously perceived is actually quite false. The ear indeed reacts to very low-frequency signals," says one investigator.
by Sean Buckley
When we think about gadgets to aid the hearing impaired, cochlear implants usually come to mind -- but these devices are expensive and require invasive surgery. Neuroscientist Dr. David Eagleman and graduate student Scott Novich have another idea: sensory substation clothing. The two are developing a hearing device that you wear on your torso. It's called the Vibrotactile Extra-Sensory Transducer (or simply "Vest" for short) and it translates sound into tactile feedback. Eaglman says that with training, the brain can actually learn to translate Vest's vibrations into useful data -- meaning that wearers could potentially "hear" through their skin.
It sounds insane, but Eagleman says it's not all that different than from how hearing works naturally. The brain, he explains, can't actually hear -- it's just interpreting electrical signals . . .
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School Sounds Tour
From National Institute for Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
|Returning to school can be an exciting time for children as they reconnect with friends, meet their new teachers, and explore new subjects. As your children settle back into the school day routine, help them become aware of noise levels in their school environment.Talk with your children about noise levels at school and the importance of quiet spaces. Ask them to identify the noisiest and quietest spots they’ve noticed during their school day. Give them examples of places that might be loud (gym, crowded hallways, cafeteria) and quiet (classroom during reading time, art class, library).
With teacher and principal approval, your children can take a decibel meter to school to measure noisy and quiet spaces and share what they find with friends. Discuss the findings with your children and explain the dangers of prolonged or repeated exposure to any noise at or above 85 decibels. Sound meters can be purchased from an electronics store or through websites. Downloadable sound meter apps are also available for most smartphones.
For more information on teaching your tweens about noise levels, go to the Noisy Planet website to read Teachable Moments About Healthy Hearing, and take a look at our Interactive Sound Ruler. You can also post your children’s experiences on our Noisy Planet Facebook page.
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.
The Real Sounds of Hearing Loss
The website of Houston Public Radio has a great series of audio clips that simulate what sound is like to someone with a hearing loss. It’s a great resource for friends, family members, co-workers, and others to help increase their understanding.
Check it out at:
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.