When things get noisey do your ears shut down?

Our auditory processing system is possibly our largest information gathering sense. It keeps us safe and it processes mountains of information without our knowledge. It also never turns off. But, sometimes it just gets tired and bit overwhelmed. Think of how your auditory processing is going after a long and possibly very noisey day, you might not even hear it when someone says some thing to you.

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We have similar issues when we are in a noisey place and we are trying to concentrate on what someone is saying. Often we will miss small syllables in a sentence and our brain has to work hard to both hear the sounds, as well as fill in the gaps, with the sounds we might have missed. In the research this is called speech-in-noise processing.

How does music learning impact on this processing? Well, researchers have been fascinated about how musicians seems to switch on more of their brain when they are processing speech-in-noise, rather than their auditory processing becoming overloaded and switching off.

This processing skill is important for everyone; young children need to seperate speech from noise so they can learn how to speak, and for older people to be able to remain socially engaged and alert in noisey situations.

This diagram is a great example of this difference. Read more about this phenomenon in this article.

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