Porpoises adjust beams of sound to narrow in on their prey, according to research published in eLife. Scientists fitted porpoises with sound-detecting tags to record the clicks and buzzes they make that echo off their prey, switching from narrow to wide beams of sound. Researchers say they suspect whales and dolphins use the same method to search out prey.
Following are a selection of interesting news items from our field. This section will be updated on a continuous basis so check back often in between issues, to see what is new.
Heat and sound waves can be manipulated with magnetic fields, according to a study by Ohio State University scientists. They were able to control acoustic phonons, a cousin to photons, with a magnetic field as big as an MRI machine. "This adds a new dimension to our understanding of acoustic waves. We've shown that we can steer heat magnetically. With strong enough magnetic fields, we should be able to steer sound waves, too," said Joseph Heremans, who led the study published in Nature Materials.
A new ‘Action Plan on Hearing Loss’ to support services for deaf people and those with diminishing hearing has been produced by NHS England and the Department of Health.
Scientists at ETH Zurich have developed a technique that would use patients' own cartilage to 3D-print nose and ear implants, which could require less surgery than current methods of creating cartilage implants. The bioprinting technique mixes cartilage cells with biopolymers to create the implant; the biopolymers will eventually break down and only cartilage will be left. Animal trials will occur later this year.
Cochlear implantation was associated with improved speech perception and cognitive function in adults 65 years or older with profound hearing loss, according to a report. Hearing impairment is associated with cognitive decline, the researcher say.
Voices in people's heads are far more varied and complex than previously thought. One of the largest and most detailed studies to date on the experience of auditory hallucinations, commonly referred to as voice hearing, found that the majority of voice-hearers hear multiple voices with distinct character-like qualities, with many also experiencing physical effects on their bodies. The study also confirmed that both people with and without psychiatric diagnoses hear voices.
Adult musicians with hearing loss may be interested in some of the opportunities provided by the Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss (AAMHL). A nonprofit organization based in Rockville, MD, the Association was founded as a resource for musicians with hearing loss to discuss the challenges they face in making and listening to music.
A researcher has discovered a way to keep remyelination going, using a drug that's already on the market. Damage to myelin, the fatty insulator that enables communication between nerve cells, characterizes multiple sclerosis (MS) and other devastating neurological diseases.
An unusual disease called Susac syndrome, which can cause acute confusion and problems with hearing and eyesight, is rare but probably under reported, physicians report.
The ear is quicker than the eye. People can detect changes in sound in a few thousandths of a second while their eyes need about a fiftieth of second to spot a change. This audio ability has prompted researchers to take information normally shown visually and turn it into sounds, a process called sonification. It allows researchers to pick up on differences at faster rates.