Hearing

Watch Hearing-impaired Coworker Surprised by Special Birthday Song

These Chick-fil-A employees weren’t about to let a language barrier get in the way of wishing their coworker a happy birthday.

The staff of a Lawton, Oklahoma Chick-fil-A secretly learned how to sing “Happy Birthday” in sign language for their hearing-impaired coworker named James.

In order to properly surprise James, the workers waited until he had gone to the back of the restaurant to get more supplies so they could organize. Then, one…

What Makes Our Listening Ineffective and How to Improve It

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in selective listening may be the easiest way to pick a fight with your significant other. I know I’m guilty of it. I listen to what he says and assume I understand what he means, and not always in a positive way.

This misunderstanding typically stems from the fact that I am not actually listening at all. I am hearing what I want to hear and tuning out everything in between. This causes me to have my own version of the entire conversation, and it usually isn’t very accurate. Many women will joke that their husbands have selective listening, but could it be that we are all a little guilty of it?

What Is Selective Listening and Why It Is Problematic

Selective listening, or selective attention, is the phenomenon that occurs when we only see what we want to see and hear what we want to hear. It’s a type of mental filtering in which we tune out someone’s opinions or ideas when they don’t line up with ours.1 This isn’t just a bad habit or rude behavior. It’s part of a big problem which results when you are unable to hear what someone has to say because you are refusing to submit yourself to the underlying confrontation. That potential fight is the real reason we often stop hearing what someone has to say; we’ve already decided they’re wrong because we are right.

If You Want to Have Good Listening, You Need to Care First

Good listening ultimately comes down to priorities. If we deem something to be important and worth listening to, there’s a good chance we are going to block out all background noise and focus on that one thing. But if we’re listening to our spouse remind us to get milk, there’s a good chance we’ll be more focused on the celebrity gossip show we’re watching and listening to. In fact, our brains were made to prioritize some audio cues over others!

Whether we are fully aware of it or not, we are always selectively listening. Science has proven that our brains…

Why Are So Many Musical Geniuses Asocial? A New Study Reveals an Interesting Link

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We often see in the media autistic savants who can write and play music like grand masters with incredible talent and flourish. In fact, of autistic savants and savants in general, having extraordinary musical talent is one of the most common advantages. A new study published in the journal Cognition, suggests a reason for it. Those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) have superior hearing.

Some of the advantages include “enhanced pitch discrimination” and “increased auditory perceptual capacity.” Even so, ASD people often find normal, neutral sounds grating. This may be because their auditory system takes in more sound than neurotypical people. Said differently, they have a higher capacity.

Investigators conducted two behavioral experiments to discover these differences in auditory perception and how it led to certain advantages and challenges for those with ASD. Anna Remington and Jake Fairnie were the two researchers who conducted the study. They hail from the Centre for Research in Autism and Education, at the UCL Institute of Education, in the UK.

The study participants were 20 young adults with ASD and 20 neurotypical young adults, all between the ages of 17 and 34. They each participated in two computer-based tests. In…

Language heard, but never spoken, by young babies bestows a hidden benefit

mother and baby laughing and playing
Babies who heard Korean spoken in their first six months of life were better able to pick up the language later as adults, a study finds. The results show how early language exposure patterns the brain in ways that may not be revealed for decades, if ever.

The way babies learn to speak is nothing short of breathtaking. Their brains are learning the differences between sounds, rehearsing mouth movements and mastering vocabulary by putting words into meaningful context. It’s a lot to fit in between naps and diaper changes.

A recent study shows just how durable this early language learning is. Dutch-speaking adults who were adopted from South Korea as preverbal babies held on to latent Korean language skills, researchers report online January 18 in Royal Society Open Science. In the first months of their lives, these people had already laid down the foundation for speaking Korean — a foundation that persisted for decades undetected, only revealing itself later in careful laboratory tests.

Researchers tested how well people could learn to identify and speak tricky Korean sounds. “For Korean listeners, these sounds are easy to distinguish, but for second-language…

6 Ways to Clean Your Ears Without Cotton Swabs

As the old saying goes, “You shouldn’t put anything in your ears smaller than your elbow.” And that includes Q-Tips.

The cotton swabs that most of us use to clean wax out of our ears are a lot more harmful than helpful. When you put a Q-tip in your ear, it actually ends up pushing most of the wax deeper into the canal instead of digging it out the way it’s supposed to. The wax then sits up against your ear drums and prevents them from vibrating properly, which can cause hearing problems. And if you dig too deep, you can actually wind up puncturing your ear drum, which is not only traumatizing (as anyone who has seen Season 2 of Girls can attest), it can have serious long-term effects on your hearing.

As gross as it sometimes seems, it’s important to understand that having earwax is actually a good thing. The wax helps lubricate our ear canals to keep them functioning properly, keeps bugs from crawling inside our ears, and prevents fungus from growing around our ear drums—situations that are all a lot worse than the earwax itself.

Ears are pretty good at cleaning themselves on their own, but if you do feel like they need a little extra help, here are six alternative methods for getting wax out of your ears without a Q-tip.

1. TRY THE FINGER AND TISSUE TRICK.

No Q-tip? No problem! If you haven’t let things get really backed up inside your ears (as in, it’s not hard and crusty in there), all you need to do is

Why Are My PC Speakers and Headphones Making Weird Noises?

If you’re using a desktop PC, you might have heard odd noises coming from your speakers or headphones at times. It may sound like a buzzing or whining when doing basic tasks, sometimes escalating with more intense use like games or streaming movies. To solve the problem, you’ll need to figure out what’s causing it.

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Where Speaker Noise Can Come From

There are dozens, maybe hundreds of explanations for unwanted sounds coming from your speakers. Luckily, the most common issues are fairly obvious. Broadly speaking, we can break them down into three categories: problems that originate from the physical speakers, the cable connection, and from the PC itself.

It’s easy enough to nail down which part of your speaker setup is at fault. To see if the speakers are the problem, simply plug them into an audio source other than your PC—like a phone or an MP3 player. Note that it’s perfectly normal to hear pops and buzzes as you disconnect the audio jack and plug it into something else, but if you continue to hear electronic interference even after plugging it in, you can rule out your PC as the problem. You can perform the same test in reverse, too: get another set of speakers or headphones and plug them into your PC. If you still hear the unwanted noises, your PC is likely to blame.

If the problems continue (and it’s possible to use another cable with your speakers or headphones), then try replacing the cable. If you hear clearer sound with no interference, then the cable was the likely culprit. Usually this means that either the connector on the end has some kind of physical defect causing a poor connection with the audio source, or the cable itself is poorly shielded. What you’re hearing is electromagnetic interference from your PC or other electrical devices in the room. The fix here is simple enough: just use a different cable, preferably one with a high-quality jack and better shielding.

If the speakers are the problem, it’s likely that they’re damaged. You might be able to isolate specifically which speaker is damaged by listening closely, especially if…