The researchers demonstrated that listening to loud music through earphones for extended periods in noisy surroundings can cause neurophysiological changes related to clear discrimination of sounds, even if the hearing threshold is normal. This auditory abnormality concerns "the vividness of sounds" and cannot be recognized by the usual hearing test in which subjects are examined using a series of individual tones in a silent environment. These results may support a future auditory assessment plan for long-term portable music player users.
The research group examined the brain's response to sound using the biomagnetism measurement device MEG (magnetoencephalography)
The real business of translating vibrations into what our brains understand as sound takes place behind the eardrum, in the inner ear. Behind the eardrum is the inner ear. This is where the cochlea reacts to the vibrations transmitted by the tiny bones of the inner ear and converts them to signals that go directly to the brain.
At normal volume levels, the sensitive hairs in the cochlea wave back and forth, relaying information on to the brain. Excessively loud sounds hit these hair cells like a tidal wave crashing into a coastal forest — basically, hair cells break and their nerve connections get damaged. Extended exposure makes it worse. In fact, only three hours of too-loud headphone listening can be more harmful than exposure to the sound of an explosion at close range.
Accordingly, It can be said that listening to music at high volumes burdens the nerves of the brain and auditory system and can cause a decline in the ability to discriminate sounds, even if the usual hearing test results are normal and the subject is unaware of any changes. It would be better to suppress environmental noises by using devices such as noise cancellers instead of turning up the volume when enjoying a mobile music player in a noisy place.
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