1. What's that? Hearing varies by gender and
Black adults hear better than white adults, a study has found.
The study also found that women hear better than men and that, overall, hearing
in the United States is about the same as it was 35 years ago, despite the advent
of ear-blasting devices such as the Walkman and iPod. The racial difference may
be related to melanin, a skin pigment. Some scientists believe black people's
larger amount of melanin protect them from noise-induced hearing loss as the years
go by. Scientists suspect melanin plays a role in how the body removes harmful
chemical compounds caused by damage to the sensitive hair cells in the inner ear.
Genetics or occupational noise exposure may explain the difference between women
and men. The conclusion that the nation's overall hearing has not changed since
the early 1970s seems to contradict other recent research finding that modern
teenagers do not hear as well as children did in the age before mobile listening
devices. The study looked at more that 5,000 people who had hearing tests from
1999 through 2004 as part of an annual federal health survey. On average, the
1077 non-Hispanics blacks could hear higher tones at 15 to 22 decibels, while
the 2,518 non-Hispanic whites could hear high tones at 21 to 32 decibels. [Our
own tests of BAS members, a very limited sample, tend to confirm these results].
President, Boston Audio Society
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