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Your ability to hear can depend on what your hands are doing

A person's hearing ability depends on what his hands are doing,researchers have found.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
October 15, 2012 5:45:22 pm

The new research links motor skills and perception,specifically as it relates to a second finding – a new understanding of what the left and right brain hemispheres


Georgetown University Medical Centre researchers say these findings may eventually point to strategies to help stroke patients recover their language abilities,and to improve speech recognition in children with dyslexia.

The study is the first to match human behaviour with left brain/right brain auditory processing tasks.

Before this research,neuro-imaging tests had hinted at differences in such processing.

“Language is processed mainly in the left hemisphere,and some have suggested that this is because the left hemisphere specialises in analysing very rapidly changing sounds,” said study senior investigator,Peter E Turkeltaub.

Turkeltaub and his team hid rapidly and slowly changing sounds in background noise and asked 24 volunteers to simply indicate whether they heard the sounds by pressing a button.

“Each subject was told to use his or her right hand to respond during the first 20 sounds,then the left hand for the next 20 second,then right,then left,and so on,” Turkeltaub said in a statement.

When a subject was using their right hand,they heard the rapidly changing sounds more often than when they used their left hand,and vice versa for the slowly changing sounds.

“Since the left hemisphere controls the right hand and vice versa,these results demonstrate that the two hemispheres specialise in different kinds of sounds ¿ the left hemisphere likes rapidly changing sounds,such as consonants,and the right hemisphere likes slowly changing sounds,such as syllables or intonation,” Turkeltaub said.

“These results also demonstrate the interaction between motor systems and perception. It’s really pretty amazing. Imagine you’re waving an American flag while listening to one of the presidential candidates. The speech will actually sound slightly different to you depending on whether the flag is in your left hand or your right hand,” researchers said.

“If we can understand the basic brain organisation for audition,this might ultimately lead to new treatments for people who have speech recognition problems due to stroke or other brain injury,” Turkeltaub said.

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