Saturday Morning Physics
Physics Meets Physiology: How We Hear and How We Can Lose Our Hearing
Jochen Schacht, Ph.D., Professor of Otolaryngology, Professor of Biochemistry and Director of the Kresge Hearing Research Institute, University of Michigan
Hearing is our most sensitive sense and a basis for human communication. Our ears can pick up the quiet rustling of leaves, recognize the voices of our loved ones (and not so loved ones), and help us enjoy the spectrum of sounds from a bass drum to a violin. Yet, our ears are also highly vulnerable, and hearing losses of significant severity affect more than 28 million individuals in this country alone. Approximately one-half of such losses are thought to be of hereditary origin. The others are acquired during our life time as the result of a variety of causes, including exposure to work-place or recreational noise, treatment with certain drugs, various diseases and the aging process itself. This lecture will introduce the delicate organization of our inner ears, explore the major sources of acquired hearing loss and outline potential remedies.