In addition to being restorative to a person’s spirit, engaging in regular social interaction can also positively affect health. Several studies have highlighted the impacts of socialization on the body. Without it, individuals are at a higher risk of developing serious health conditions, including depression and elevated blood pressure. The health benefits of social bonds even extend to our auditory system. To better understand this phenomenon, a research team at Georgia State University conducted a study on the impacts of socially significant sounds on hearing ability.
Using green tree frogs, which have relatively simple forms of communication, the researchers examined the consequences of social isolation on sound perception. For 10 consecutive nights, two groups of frogs, a control group and test group, were subjected to varying sounds. While the control group heard a series of random sounds, the test group heard socially important sounds—their species’ calls—just as they would in the wild.
Just as humans rely on speech, the species-specific calls have great significance to the green tree frog, as they facilitate social behavior. When the test group was exposed to these socially meaningful calls, they were shown to be more sensitive to these sounds than the control group.
The study suggests that more social interaction increases your capacity to understand social sounds. It also shows that these sounds can physically modify the ear to increase sensitivity, though the precise location of this change is unknown.
The research has substantial implications for socially isolated humans, such as individuals in nursing homes and prisoners, who are likely to communicate less frequently. It could also have importance for the hearing impaired community as well, who sometimes struggle to hear speech frequencies.
Our ability to hear keeps us connected to the world around, so the maintenance of our auditory system should be a priority. In order to prevent hearing loss from impacting your life, you should use hearing protection in environments with unsafe noise levels and receive annual audiology tests to monitor your hearing. To schedule a consultation with a local Spanish Fork audiologist, we encourage you to contact our staff at 801-763-0724.