Hearing With Bones and Eyeballs

Wha? We hear with more than our ears?  

Our bones? Our joints? Our eyeballs? Our teeth?

But don’t they just test the ears in hearing tests?  Yep.

Don’t they just test the ears in music listening tests? Yep.


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See the problem? Complete hearing is done by combining multiple inputs.

Those making measurements of hearing and sound continue to miss this basic point.

Healing Senses By Depriving Them

Interesting theory here that a lazy eye can be cured or corrected with several days of absolute darkness. The lazy eye is a function of the brain not being able to control and process the eye properly, not a function of a malfunctioning eyeball.

The idea is that this total darkness reboots the visual cortex and allows the subject to emerge from the darkness and view the world in a more accurate way.

This is based on the what they call plasticity of our brains when we are younger. It’s been shown that the young brain adapts and takes on new skills faster than an older brain, in particular sensory and motor skills.

 

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The visual cortex in the rear of the brain

 

Researchers believe prolonged darkness, while maintaining everything else in normal patterns (eating, sleeping, socializing, etc.), allows the visual cortex to reset. When first presented with light it quickly decodes it and re-learns how to see.

The theory is that those that suffer from a lazy eye will see a real improvement with this non-invasive treatment.

The doctor behind it had to do a trial run, so he used himself and a volunteer to live in a light-free apartment for a week. Since they survived the trial run with no drama a larger study is being prepared.

 

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The auditory cortex is nearly wrapped around the Thalamus, which is responsible for processing all sensory input, and regulating consciousness, motor skills, and sleep.

 

It is also interesting to note that sound experiments with light depravation have shown that subjects increase their acuity to sound when in the dark – aka the blind musician concept. Researchers kept mice in the dark and did sound tests and guess what, the dark-living mice could detect more detail in sound than the lighted ones.  But in this case, once emerging from the darkness, their hearing skills went back to previous norms. They want to extend the test to see if they can permanently improve the subject’s hearing.

I generally support any therapy that is non-invasive and non-pharmaceutical, so I wish them luck in their studies.

I’d go into a dark room for a few days and have a real stay-cation especially if I believed I would emerge improved and healed. This also sounds like something someone could manage mostly by themselves with a few close companions and basic medical consultation.

The Complicated World of Hearing

What do you hear?  

Everything you can. 

How do you hear?  

Binaurally through the ears using mechanoreceptors in the form of tiny hairs called follicular receptors. Additional data is picked up by other mechanoreceptors throughout your skin including under every hair follicle and inside many of your joints. Our brains then use both heard and felt sound data to understand what we are facing.

What are properties of binaural sound?  Also known as sound localization, this details the time- and level-differences between both ears, such as

  • Spectral information
  • Timing analysis
  • Correlation analysis
  • Pattern matching

This overall intelligence of the 3-dimensional sound helps form the timbre, room ambience, and performance dynamics of the sound. This happens whether the sound is a lawnmower outside your window, an oboe solo, your cell phone buzzing, or all three at once.

This binaural data is all added to frequency when we determine a sound and its total quality.  Frequency is the note being played and the sound tone being generated on a measurable scale – basically wavelength at a particular moment in time.

The problem is that modern science only has reliable measurements for frequency. Frequency, besides being easily measured, is easily displayed on our 2D displays, and thus has been studied thoroughly for over 70 years. The field of Digital Signal Processing (DSP) is based on the study of frequencies and human’s interactions with them.

But there’s much more happening when you hear a song you love than frequency analysis and musical recognition, and modern math has yet to capture and replicate it. This leaves people that insist on having math behind everything in the natural world in a bad place, disregarding most of this sound data as being outside their realm of importance.

But the spatial and sizing data is critical, in some ways more than frequency. Examples: You always know if what you hear is real or a cover band. If it is the original artist you also know if it’s been degraded at either the source (a bad copy), or on playback (bad headphones, bad cable, bad reception, etc.).

If it’s a playback problem you start looking for the damage to correct it asap. If it’s damaged source you usually just accept it as all you have and try your best to enjoy it. This all happens without thinking and without training or education. We just understand it as how the physical world works.

When music you love comes to you, regardless of the quality, it lands. Since you can only comfortably take in 1 version at a time you eat it up.

 

There's a lot going on inside your ears.

There’s a lot going on inside your ears.

 

Complicated stuff, right? There are lots of variables. All of this independent to you and you only. I have totally different listening spots, gear, and favorite songs than you do. We all do. Emotionally we are all different, minute by minute, week after week, living within our altering moods.

I can project that this “hearing thing” is perhaps impossible to measure with all of the variables.


 

So how else to model this? The marketplace is one way, which will both benefit and hurt the argument.

The fine art market has experts, moneyed customers, and various business interests building value on pieces of art, which as you know sell  from dollars to millions of dollars per piece. These experts hunt down and remove fakes to protect the quality of the masters at any cost.

More people bought Justin Bieber posters last year than fine art. That’s the marketplace, that’s mass duplication.

We can’t let the digital generations burn and loot the art vault with resolution assumptions based on bad science. We have a century of recorded music that could be upgraded and distributed to this centuries people, and it should be done in highest quality 21st century digital can offer.

Imagine if in 1978 two paper companies invented a printing method that output 2,200 colors at 160dpi, perfectly matching their new poster stock, and then sold millions of fine art posters at that resolution. Then for the next 40 years people walked around saying “it’s the same as the original” and couldn’t even accept there was any better quality possible. This is exactly what has happened with CD audio.

 

The point of all of this: Team Ear, baby! Don’t let technology worship cloud your views of what the human body is capable of.

The human ear has an extraordinarily large sensitivity range of a trillion to one, allowing us to hear a rocket launch or the footfalls of a cat on a carpet.  According to Werner Gitt, the ear is our highest-precision sense organ, capable of responding over twelve orders of magnitude without switching (The Wonder of Man, p.21).  Some of this sensitivity is amplified by the eardrum and middle ear ossicles, but the paper reported above shows even more fine-tuning inside the cochlea.  Gitt’s book is highly recommended for generating a profound feeling of awe over the design of our senses.  Proverbs said, “The seeing eye, and the hearing ear, the Lord has made them both” (Prov. 20:12)

Read more details on one of the studies of the cochlea here.

 

 

Desiderius

“Anyone who looks closely at the inward nature and essence will find that nobody is further from true wisdom than those people with their grand titles, learned bonnets, splendid sashes and bejeweled rings, who profess to be wisdom’s peak.”  – Erasmus, 1515

 

NAILED IT, 499 YEARS AGO. First post?

I repost this nugget of wisdom from Desiderius for you internet travelers, reading reviews and arguments in comment sections about complicated topics. Please trust your own human senses over anything you read, regardless of the credentials or sincerity behind their argument. Put away the computer and use your ears, hands, beautiful big eyes, nose, and other senses to lead you. Trust in what was given you.

Also remember the internet generation didn’t invent any of this hot-air. After all, Desidirius named hisself that (stage name) and it literally translates to “the longed-for”. Take that Kanye.

Erasmus

1 Trillion Odors, or alot of Funk

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Ha, Imagine That!  I’m running all over the internet fighting bad science about hearing and music, and The Journal of Science publishes a study that says scientists have really underestimated the abilities of our nose and sense of smell.

Oh those crazy scientists, always learning more about our senses. Always so amazed at what the human body and brain can do. Sometime Simpleton.

This mirrors what is happening in the audio world. I really do think we will look back at the days (decades) of claiming “humans can’t actually perceive anything beyond 16/44 digital files” as the ignorant dark ages of hearing science. Producers and musicians have been ignored and derided in the name of digital convenience for many years now.

All it takes is one scientific paper to state something about how we can sense all kinds of other tones, timbres, and frequencies throughout our bodies, and how when receiving the full spectrum of audio, human bodies react positively. Familiarity is the first stage of listening, but we must go further than that for actual enjoyment.

But that’s not science, is it? It’s just a reality that is hard to quantize.