Your Skull Shapes Your Hearing

Scientific American By Christopher Intagliata on October 17, 2019

The resonant properties of your skull can amplify some frequencies and dampen others—and, in some cases, affect your hearing. Christopher Intagliata reports. 

Certain concert venues, like Boston’s Symphony Hall, are known to beautifully reflect the sounds of an orchestra. It turns out there’s a similar process at play in your cochlea, deep inside your ear—where a tiny bony cavity houses the organ that allows you to hear.

“It’s like its own tiny little acoustics chamber, if you will. So anything and everything you hear is going into our ear and then going into this little bony chamber.”

Mike Gordon, a psychologist at William Paterson University in New Jersey. But while studying this process, he also found there’s actually a lot of variability in the way people hear. Some frequencies can appear tens of decibels louder or quieter than average—based on the resonant properties of a person’s skull. 

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