Social interaction can have many positive effects on a person’s well-being. Without it, people are at a greater risk of high-blood pressure, obesity and mortality. In addition to these benefits, which have been well-documented in previous medical studies, we now know that social bonds can affect your auditory system. A research team at Georgia State University recently conducted a study to explore this phenomenon.
Using green tree frogs, who have relatively simple forms of communication, the researchers examined the consequences of social isolation on sound perception. For 10 consecutive nights, two groups of frogs, a control group and test group, were subjected to varying sounds. While the control group heard a series of random sounds, the test group heard socially important sounds—their species’ calls—just as they would in the wild.
Just as human rely on speech, the species-specific calls have great significance to the green tree frog, as they facilitate social behavior. When the test group was exposed to these socially meaningful calls, they were shown to be more sensitive to these sounds than the control group.
The study suggests that more social interaction increases your capacity to understand social sounds. It also shows that these sounds can physically modify the ear to increase sensitivity, though the precise location of this change is unknown.
The research has substantial implications for socially isolated humans, such as individuals in nursing homes and prisoners, who are likely to communicate less frequently. It could also have importance for the hearing impaired community as well, who sometimes struggle to hear speech frequencies.
In order to keep your auditory system healthy and functioning optimally, audiologists recommend including annual hearing tests as a part of your preventative health routine. A hearing consultant can conduct a comprehensive hearing exam to identify an early loss. If some degree of hearing loss is present, your doctor can recommend personalized hearing treatment options, such as hearing aids and auditory rehabilitation, which will help prevent the further deterioration of your hearing abilities. To find a provider of digital hearing aids in Simi Valley, contact our team at 805.584.3327.