How Hearing Works and Why It Is the Fastest Sense

Published March 19th, 2021 by Audio-Ultra

You've heard of the five basic senses, but did you know hearing is the fastest?

This entire process is speedy - it only takes less than a fifth of a second for the sound to go from your eardrum to the auditory nerve in your brain. Sound waves travel at approximately 345m per second, depending on conditions.

If all those facts left you with more questions than you started, our guide explains how hearing works and why it is the quickest sense.

How Hearing Works

We hear through our ears, which are receptors for sound; everything else - your brain, your head, the rest of your body - plays a supporting role in determining the sound quality.

The ear divides into three parts: outer, middle, and inner. The outer ear channels sound waves as they move through the air. Then these waves pass through the ear canal (also known as the external auditory meatus), which connects to the middle ear. This part of the ear includes a small bone called the tympanic membrane (or eardrum).

This membrane vibrates when it receives waves, which causes movement in the liquid found between the membrane and another bone - creating vibrations that move towards the inner ear.

A snail-shell-shaped organ called the cochlea converts these vibrations into electrical impulses for your brain to understand in the inner ear. This process of converting sound energy into electrical signals is called transduction.

It occurs in two parts: cochlea translates sound energy into mechanical vibration, these vibrations then convert into neural impulses via synapses, and finally, it gets transmitted to our brain, and we perceive them as sounds.

Hearing Is the Fastest Sense

But why is hearing the fastest sense? The answer lies in our anatomy: while our eyes are too big and slow for us to move them around, our ears are compact, which means we can turn them towards a sound source within a 10th of a second. Furthermore, about 80% of all sensory input your brain receives comes through hearing.

Communication, learning, and social interaction are all influenced by how well you can hear. Hearing loss can affect your ability to understand others, impacting your ability to interact with other people. Many people have experienced the difficulty of holding a conversation with someone who doesn't hear well; it's frustrating for both parties involved.

On top of that, age-related hearing loss occurs over time as our ears age. As more and more hair cells die, the ears' capacity to receive sound weakens. We lose our ability to perceive specific frequencies. Thus, audio quality decreases.

Hearing Enhances Our Experiences

Hearing is a compelling sense. We can make assumptions about people based on their voice alone. We know that their tone is soft, rough, sharp, or smooth tells us something about them.

Our mind uses sounds to show us the real emotion behind our words, and sometimes, what we say isn't even what we mean. The importance of sound impacts the lives of everyone.

Now you understand how hearing works, enrich your listening experience and get in touch today and give your ears the waves they deserve!

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