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Home > News > Report

Sing to my left ear, talk to my right

September 13, 2004 13:54 IST

Our left and right ears process sound differently, report agencies quoting a report in Science magazine.

The study, led by Dr Yvonne Sininger of the University of California at Los Angeles, reveals that in babies, the left ear was more attuned to music and the right better at picking up speech-like sounds.

Though the fact the right and left halves of the brain process sound differently was known for some time, "We always assumed that our left and right ears worked exactly the same way," Sininger was quoted as saying.

"As a result, we tended to think it didn't matter which ear was impaired in a person. Now we see that it may have profound implications for the individual's speech and language development."

The discovery will help specialists dealing with hearing loss and speech and language development in hearing-impaired newborns.

Sininger and her team examined hearing in more than 3000 newborns after inserting tiny probes into their ears which emitted two different types of sounds� speech like clicks and a musical tone.

On measuring the amplified vibrations inside, "We were intrigued to discover that the clicks triggered more amplification in the baby's right ear, while the tones induced more amplification in the baby's left ear," Sininger said.

"This parallels how the brain processes speech and music, except the sides are reversed due to the brain's cross connections."

"We always assumed that our left and right ears worked exactly the same way. As a result, we tended to think it didn't matter which ear was impaired in a person. Now we see that it may have profound implications for the individual's speech and language development."

The researchers believe the discovery will greatly help doctors enhance speech and language development in hearing-impaired newborns and the rehabilitation of people with hearing loss.

 

Agencies


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