Do you ever watch "How Things Work" on TV?
It's cool to understand our "things" a little better. But when the "things" are us – as in you and me – it is even more fascinating to me. It’s often hard to understand the impact of basic science experiments but they are critical to our understanding of how we work.
A recent publication by researchers Qiong Wang, PhD, and Steven Green, PhD, both at the University of Iowa, reveals additional evidence about both the delicacy and the amazing capabilities of our hearing mechanism!
For years, we've focused on the hair cells and their stereocillia, but it’s the neurons they connect to are a vital part of the system! Based on this recent research, that’s exactly where the early warning signs of noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) occur!
This brings to mind another television show, "Mythbusters." It turns out a study (wonderfully titled) "Evidence of a Misspent Youth" by Sharon Kujawa and Charles debunk the myth that once the noise stops, the hearing loss stops.
“Exposure to lots of loud noise when you are young does lead to accelerated age-related hearing loss later in life,” Wang says, “indicating that the damage from noise early in life continues to have deleterious effects over time.” She believes this may be due to lost connections between hair cells and SGNs that never recover.
The bottom line from all of this: To prevent noise-induced hearing loss, all of us, young and old, need to "turn it down" and limit exposure time.
The message is the same but the reason is to keep your neurons connected to your stereocillia!