Everybody has experienced a situation in which they’ve had to ask someone to repeat what they just said. Perhaps they were speaking too quietly, or perhaps a high level of excess noise drowned out their words. Whatever the reason, it’s natural for our ears to miss some things here and there. What you may not have known is that when they do miss something, there’s a trick to making sure you get it right the second time.


While you may think that both of your ears play the exact same role in deciphering different sounds, it actually turns out that each one of your ears has a particular strength. By playing on these different strengths and understanding which ear may be better at deciphering which sounds, you might be able to improve your hearing instantly.


A study conducted over the course of six years by scientists at UCLA and the University of Arizona sought to better understand the role that the ears play in processing auditory signals. In doing so, they studied the hearing ability of 3,000 newborns when exposed to different sounds, including clicks and musical tones, in an effort to test a potential distinction between each ear’s unique hearing capabilities.


The study stemmed from previous knowledge that the right and left hemispheres of the brain sort out and understand sound differently. While the left side of the brain has always proven essential to interpreting speech and other sounds which are characterized by rapid changes, the right side has always dominated in interpreting sounds like music and musical tones.


Leaning in with your right ear could help you better understand and process speech and other quickly changing auditory signals (lse.ac.uk)

Leaning in with your right ear could help you better understand and process speech and other quickly changing auditory signals (lse.ac.uk)

This distinction between the two hemispheres of the brain when it comes to auditory processing had always been considered independent of the actual ears themselves, which had always been assumed to work in the same way. However, the UCLA/University of Arizona study found that while the clicks triggered a more prevalent response in the right ear of each baby, the tones triggered a stronger response in the left. These findings suggest that, in fact, the cross connection of the brain to the rest of the body, in which the left side of the body is linked to the right hemisphere of the brain and vice versa, actually comes into play with our hearing as well.


In other words, the superior processing of speech and rapidly changing auditory signals on the left side of the brain is tied to the superior ability of the right ear to pick up these sounds. On the other hand, the superior processing of music by the right side of the brain is linked to the left ear’s stronger ability to pick up musical sounds and tones.


Understanding this connection between our brain’s ability to decipher different sounds and the role that each ear plays ultimately gives us the ability to improve our hearing in just seconds. More specifically, next time you’re trying to hear more clearly what someone is saying to you, it might be most effective to lean in closer with your right ear. This will make you more likely to pick up the proper auditory signals from the person’s speech. Likewise, if you’re at a crowded party or a noisy café and are curious about a song playing over the speakers, lean in with your left ear. This will increase the chances of you catching the musical tones more successfully. Just like that, you may find you’re closer to supersonic hearing than you thought.


Did you know that each ear played a different role when it came to deciphering different auditory signals? Share with us below or tweet me @tamarahoumi