Loud Noises Change How Brain Processes Speech
[Source: Medical News Today]
A new study shows for the first time that prolonged exposure to loud noise changes how the brain processes speech, suggesting the damage such exposure causes is not limited to physical changes in the ear itself.
According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), the organization that funded the study, prolonged exposure to noise levels at 85 decibels and above increases people’s risk for hearing loss.
And it is a sobering thought that many devices children use today have noise levels much higher than this threshold – for example an MP3 player on its loudest setting is giving out sound at 105 decibels, which is 100 times more intense than 85 decibels.
Repeated exposure to intensely loud noise eventually causes permanent damage to the hair cells in the ear that act as sound receivers – they convert sound energy into electrical signals that travel to the brain.
Once damaged, the hair cells do not grow back, leading to noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL), a condition that affects around 15% of Americans between the ages of 20 and 69.
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