Perk up your ears! It’s probably a saying you’ve heard at least once or twice in your lifetime. The saying comes from watching animals of all types move or perk their ears when they hear something new or interesting. Think about your dog or cat (or horse or monkey, etc)–when you whistle or call their name, their ears move so they can better hear you and respond.
But why don’t people do this?
Turns out, we do!
A fascinating new study from the Systems Neuroscience & Neurotechnology Unit in Saarland have proven that humans do have tiny muscles in their ear that unconsciously respond to any new noise stimulus. The research team, led by Dr. Danial Strauss, discovered that minute electrical activity occurs in human ear muscles in response to “novel, unusual, or goal-relevant” sounds.
“The electrical activity of the ear muscles indicates the direction in which the subject is focusing their auditory attention,” says Strauss. “It is very likely that humans still possess a rudimentary orientation system that tries to control the movement of the pinna (the visible outer part of the ear). Despite becoming vestigial about 25 million years ago, this system still exists as a “neural fossil” within our brains,” he says.
While no one expects you to actually “perk up your ears” when they want you to listen closely, you can let them know that you already did! This biological tendency to move your ears is indicative of a healthy hearing system. Healthy hearing, though not required to live a full life, is an important part of the overall human experience. This is why hearing loss can be such a devastating thing to experience.
If you, or someone you know, may be having some hearing problems, it’s important to get tested for hearing loss as soon as possible. The sooner you receive testing, the quicker your team can find a good solution to help aid your hearing.
Healthy hearing allows you to experience your child’s–or grandchild’s–laughter, revel in that beautiful opera, and listen to the crowd chant your favorite performer’s name. It’s an integral part of the human experience and something you should protect and preserve.
If you’re interested in learning more about hearing testing, be sure to find a provider, like Hearing Associates of Las Vegas, that can get you the testing and answers you deserve. Get ready to perk up your ears a lot more often!