Neural ear cells were once considered as irreplaceable as neural brain cells -- once
destroyed, no replacements could be grown thereafter. The loud noises of guns, rock
music and big machinery all can obliterate ear neurons. Can being more conscious of
sounds improve auditory acuity? One researcher found that those people who enjoy
loud music or "attend" more to it suffer less hearing loss from it than those who don't
enjoy it. By directing your conscious awareness to a finely tuned listening
discernment, there is a more refined usage of the ears, and corresponding brain
centers governing the ears. To assume that because you have ears, you are listening
and attending to sound is just as absurd as to assume that because you have a brain,
you are thinking. Both skills are learned with practice. If neither ear or brain cells
are put to much use, naturally their rate of deterioration will be increased with their
corresponding lack of use.
Since about 80% of your acknowledged sensory input is visual, much of the
auditory information coming into your brain goes consciously unnoticed. Can
deteriorating unused cells in the brain's hearing center contribute to a hearing loss?
Some people have hearing that is so attuned that they can play a musical instrument
totally "by ear." Mozart could hear a piece once, and play it perfectly from memory
Even though some people have neural connections more naturally adapted to a
sense of perfect pitch than others, research has shown that training can make the
ability of absolute pitch available to anyone, and regardless of their musical
inclinations. It does seem though that reading the language of musical notes is a left
brain function, which is why some 'idiot savants' with left brain impairment have
learned to play instruments only 'by ear' (a right brain function). One young man
learned the long distance sound tones of the telephone company so well, he could
simulate them in a phone booth without depositing any money, but simply by
Work with a partner and a touch button phone. As your partner touches each
button, you discern the number being pressed. This tonal discernment can be picked
up rather quickly. Next, using a rotary style phone, have your partner dial each digit.
Get used to the sound of the clicks for each number so that eventually you can tell any
phone number by just the sound of its being dialed. Now do either operation while
talking or listening to someone.
The blind frequently identify everyday sounds with great clarity. As an exercise
with your back turned or with your eyes closed, have a partner do different things
involving sounds for identification -- open a briefcase, pop in a cassette to a recorder,
tap on a light bulb, thump a book, etc. Next, converse with your partner and have
him continue initiating the various sound inputs -- dropping a paper clip, scraping the
floor, etc. Afterwards, identify the various sounds that you heard while you were
conversing. Continue with this and vary the sound effects from items to include
crinkling, crackling, hissing, sizzling, creaking, soft whizzing, whirring, flapping
In a country field, on a city street, or at a beach location, practice for 5 minutes
with your eyes closed identifying distant and nearby sounds -- picking each one out,
one at a time. Now embrace them together by switching your conscious awareness
very rapidly back and forth from one to another until a unified mixing is achieved.
Listen to a symphony recording and pick out each instrument being played. Then
simply appreciate the entire blend. You can do this just like you can recognize your
name spoken in a crowded room or you can embrace all the conversations at once. If
this drill is done in a group, you'll find that other people will pick up things that you
missed and vice versa. Many people can learn to discern one musician from another
just by their individual playing style.
Blindfold yourself and have an assistant drop a coin on the floor. What
denomination is it? Now drop 2 coins. What denominations are they? Increase the
number of coins and vary the combinations. Have your assistant drop certain pieces
of silverware with the coins and discern the differences and their identities. Throw a
paper wad into various sizes of empty bowls, pans and other containers and
determine the size of the container by the resounding sound.
Always have a mental set ready for absorbing your auditory information and
you'll be surprised how easy it will become to increase your awareness. Learn to
visualize sounds and replay them in your mind after you hear them, and your recall of
them later will improve. Those older people suffering from memory loss can
certainly benefit from these challenging discernment exercises. In fact, many such
drugs could be used in conjunction with physical exercise for stroke victims.