Posts Tagged ‘Deafness’
For those of us with good hearing, the idea of losing our hearing doesn’t really concern us too much because we think it takes an accident or a serious event for us to suffer hearing loss. Nothing could be further from the truth as Chris Cooper discovered one morning when he had his full hearing, went to work and had a normal day, and then came home almost deaf.
Most of us taking our health for granted. We can sympathise with people in wheelchairs, using crutches; disabilities that we can see, but what about disabilities such as hearing impairment? We don’t see it, so we don’t really understand it. One hearing aid shop owner decided to give his staff a chance to experience hearing impairment. The exercise made some very uncomfortable, but it opened a new world of understanding, and now they can empathise with those suffering hearing loss on a permanent basis.
The UK charity Hearing Dogs for Deaf People is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and since it was first established this remarkable cause has changed the lives of deaf adults and children around the United Kingdom by pairing them with specially trained hearing dogs. These caring canines assist people who are deaf of hearing impaired by alerting them to important sounds, from ringing phones to smoke alarms. In this way, hearing dogs can help improve the quality of life for their deaf handlers, offering peace of mind and companionship.
Animals and humans share the property of creating various sounds that come about through the vibrational frequencies generated from the vocal chords. Brain processing of these sounds occurs as a response to the varying frequency changes caused by changes in vocal pitch. Determining where and how the brain starts processing these different frequencies has always been a challenge to scientists. The frequency changes are known as frequency-modulated sweeps (FM) and in order to understand behaviours relating to hearing and speech, the more we know about the behaviour of these sweeps, the better.
At the California Institute of Technology two biologists have solved the mystery of the location and manner in which brain processing functions with respect to these types of signals. A true breakthrough in acoustic technology, the findings of this research has a large impact in deciphering the meaning of words, through better understanding of FM sweeps. The dipping or rising of these sweeps most prominently affects languages where such changes can actually alter the meaning one word. Mandarin Chinese is a good example of this.
Hearing loss is a frustrating condition to be going through since it can not only put your life in danger or lower the value of life, but it can also lead to awkward social interactions from people who do not understand the condition. Some might be less likely to engage you in conversation believing you to be rude or feel perhaps ignored by you. There are options to combating hearing loss problems, but we should first understand the condition better.