The human ear allows sound waves to reach the brain as electrical signals, translating them into the sounds we hear. In the ear, you also get your sense of balance, up, and down. If something goes wrong with your ear, it could possibly signal an issue with another part of your body! The ear does a lot, and one other thing it does is locate sound. Not only can we hear, but we can hear from where the sound is coming. Here’s a closer look at how the human ear locates sound.
Amplitude & Frequency of Sound
The way we perceive the location of sound first has to do with the quality of sound itself. The two measurements of sound are volume and pitch. In scientific terms, they are amplitude and frequency. The amplitude measures how tall each sound wave is. The shorter the sound wave, the quieter it is. Meanwhile, the frequency determines how short or long the sound wave is lengthwise. Very little distance between each sound wave indicates a high-pitched sound, but a long wave is a deep sound. Often, low-pitched sounds are quieter.
How the Human Ear Locates Sound
The human ear locates sound based on where the sound waves hit the head. Sound waves can come to our ears from any direction, and the two measurements below let us know from where they are coming.
Interaural Time Difference
If sound waves hit our ears at the same time, they are coming directly in front, above, behind, or below us. If there is any variation, the sound waves will hit one of our ears before the other. There is a time difference between when the sound hits one ear versus the other. This is one way we instinctively know the sound’s location.
Interaural Intensity Difference
The other location indicator is the amplitude and frequency of the sound hitting each ear, otherwise known as the interaural intensity difference. The sound waves will break up slightly as it hits one’s head, causing the sound to be less intense when it reaches the other ear. When sound waves hit one ear stronger than the other, we know where to look to see its cause.
Trust the Experts at Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions
Need help with your hearing? Clarity Hearing can help. Clarity Audiology & Hearing Solutions is an independently owned and operated clinic that focuses on quality of care and personalized, friendly service to the surrounding areas of Ellicott City, Catonsville, Columbia. Our Doctors of Audiology are highly trained with advanced degrees and take the time to provide the personalized care and attention that you need and deserve. We provide advanced hearing aid options that are personally calibrated with cutting-edge digital technology to fit your hearing loss, your unique ear anatomy, and your individual listening needs.