The Earth and its resources give us our basic needs: air, water, food, and space to live. The Earth has also provided awareness and knowledge about hearing loss and how to create better hearing technology.
The Effects of Hearing Loss
The inability to hear not only affects humans, but also bats, dolphins, and whales which are known to use sounds to communicate and move about. A study from PeerJ — the Journal of Life and Environmental Sciences — indicated that hearing loss and other noise interferences are an issue for dolphins and whales. In both of these mammals, noise that interferes at just the right frequency or experiencing hearing loss can cause them distress, make them lose their navigation skills and/or their ability to find food. Seismic testing that has been proposed in Taranaki’s Marine Mammal Sanctuary for oil can lead to permanent damage to a dolphin and whale’s hearing abilities, both of which swim within and close to the sanctuary. Since dolphins use sound in order to navigate, damaging their hearing abilities would be akin to blinding a human.
The Sense of Hearing
Suggestions on the origin and evolution of the sense of hearing can be found in squids. Up until just a few years ago, there was little information about the hearing abilities of squid and if they used their hearing to navigate, recognize danger, or avoid predators in the ocean. A study on the hearing and neuroanatomy in squid from 2012, indicated that there are several similarities between a human and squid’s hearing system.
A Reduction in Noise
Back on land, the zebra finch persistently chirps. Scientists have had a lot of interest in the male songbird’s intricate vocalization that is used in courtship. A study from 2015 showed that a finch’s brain can identify these vocalizations in noisy environments.
A finch’s capacity to respond to bird songs, while disregarding everything else is akin to a human’s ability to identify speech in a busy environment. One of the leading researchers, Frédéric Theunissen, Ph.D. and graduate student Tyler Lee, created a computer algorithm that helped to reduce background noise while wearing hearing aids.
The effects of noise reduction were tested in 2009 by using an algorithm that was similar to Theunissen and Lee’s. Even though the noise reduction did not make speech more understandable, it did ease the brain’s energy that was needed to process it. For individuals who have difficulty hearing when there’s too much background noise, this discovery could be the difference between joining in on a discussion or leaving it.
Hearing Aid Devices
The earth’s natural elements are also a great influence on how hearing aids are designed.
On lotus plants, when water droplets form and roll off of the leaves, it removes dirt along with it. The Lotus Effect is a self-cleaning routine that is the model for protective hearing aid coatings. If your hearing aids feature a water-resistant shield, the device’s exposure to moisture, earwax, oils, and other liquid elements will be protected with this shield. The water-resistant shield helps to preserve the hearing aid and extend the device’s ability to function and perform, which decreases the need to get your hearing aids repaired.
With clues on the origin of hearing, the Earth is helping to achieve better hearing and innovations through observing animals and natural elements.
If you, or a loved one, would be interested in a free hearing aid trial, please contact us at Pure Sound Hearing for a consultation.