Aleksia Kleine
Cary Academy

The purpose of this study is to determine what circumstances humans hear best in. Sound is made and it travels through the ear to the cochlea which lets a person comprehend the sound. In these experiments humans sat down a meter away from a computer making noise and were asked to do different things that would alter the senses while trying to hear the sound being played. Over all it was found that people heard better with the eyes closed, people heard worse smelling vinegar and holding hand in ice, and people heard about the same while tasting something and not tasting anything. This was because these things were either distracting if the people heard worse or less distracting if the people heard well.

Sound is quite different than people tend to think it is. Sound is very important and gives people information about a person’s surroundings. Sound is actually a vibration. These vibrations are caused by any motion that someone or something makes. Once the motion (or motions) is made the vibration Journeys through the air. If the vibrations are caught by the ear then the sound the vibrations made is heard. People hear the best when they are around age 10. Although when the vibration is traveling it is actually traveling in something called a sound wave. These sound waves can move through gases (like air) solids, and liquids. On the moon, there is no sound for there Is no air for the sound waves to move through. The pitch of sound is the frequency of the sound. If something is low pitched the sound waves vibrate slowly while a high pitch the sound waves vibrate quickly. Frequency is how many waves the sound wave makes. Hz (hertz) is the unit this is measured in. People can hear sounds from 20 to 20000 Hz! Every sound every made has a pitch and a loudness which together make the intensity of the sound. dB (decibels) is used to measure the power of the sound. If the number is small the sound is very quiet however or if the number is big the sound is loud. The numbers work so that ten times is 20 dB while 100 times is 40 db. That’s some basic information on sound of the basics on sound.
There are many parts of the human ear. The main 3 parts are the inner, middle, and outer ear. The outer ear is called the pinna. The pinna is the flap on the outside of the ear. Also part of the outer ear is the cup shaped part on the outside of the human ear. This cup shaped part of the ear is what picks up the sound waves that are made. The ear canal is the hole in the ear. This ear canal is only about one inch long. This canal can lead to a membrane. This membrane in the human ear is called the ear drum. The ear drum is right between the outer and the middle ear and separates the two main parts. The inner ear is made up of three bones the hammer, the anvil, and the stirrup bones. These bones can also be called the malleus, incus, and stapes. These bones are what link the ear drum to the middle ear. The Eustachian is a passage way going to the back of the throat from the middle ear. This tube opens when a person opens the mouth, blows the nose, or swallows. When this tube opens it makes the air pressure on both sides of the ear drum even. Going deeper in the human ear is the inner ear. The Cochlea is a snail shaped organ where the sound eventually ends up before being sorted in the brain.

Hearing is one of the 5 senses and humans depend on hearing but it is actually a complex process how it happens the action of hearing starts with the ears but the brain plays into a lot also. Here is the step by step by step process on how humans hear. First the sound waves are made and start traveling through the air. Sound waves are made from any movement anything makes. There is one ear on each side of the head so one can detect which way the sound has come from. When the ear picks up the sound vibrations they travel through the 3 mains parts of the ear (stated in paragraph 2). The sound waves are caught by the pinna and punched into the ear canal. The sound waves make their way traveling to the membrane known as the ear drum.(stated in paragraph 2) The vibration causes the bones in the inner ear and the ear drum to start to vibrate. While the sound waves are passing through the middle ear the sounds are amplified or made louder. The part of the ear that eventually receives the sound vibrations made is the cochlea which as mentioned is this snail shaped organ. (states in paragraph 2)The cochlea is filled with fluid and it is covered with tiny hairs. The vibration soon moves through the vibration in the cochlea and vibrates with the tiny hairs. These little hairs when vibrating ceases impulses or these electric signals that go towards the brain. The different parts of the human brain receive different information. The waves are sent to the section of the brain that receives sounds. To hear the difference between animal, music, noises and speeches and any other sounds the brain sorts out with auditory signals. When the brain gets these signals it sorts out the information that people need and the information that is unneeded. This way humans can focus on how what needs to be heard and people simply forget what is not important. When people are asleep although the brain is half “shut off” people still hear sounds. This is why some people wake up when they hear thunder or other loud noises. People hear the best when they are around age 10 and can pick up quieter sounds.
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Figure 1: A diagram of the human ear
A previous experiment done like this one has been done by a former 6th grader named Liz Jones. She did a similar project on how one thing affects another. She also did some on how the brain sorted memories. She decided to figure out how people’s memory was affected by what music they were listening to. She had the people listen to music while she told them a list of words for them to memorize. The list or words was repeated twice. The part remembered of the list of words was reported back to her to see how much they actually remembered. The data was recorded. The data proved people did better while listening to music. This was because people were trying even harder to remember the list of words. Liz Jones continued to do experiments such as these. They were constantly thinking about the words more so than then when they were not listening to music because the people were trying harder to remember the words. Constantly thinking of these lists of words moves the memory from short term to long term memory sections of the human brain.

Meter stick, computer, volunteer, fire balls, M&M’s, cup of ice, chair, and vinegar were used in these experiments.
Human were sat a meter away from a tablet playing words for the humans to hear and their eyes were open. The volume started at 1 and went higher and higher one notch at a time until the human was able to hear and repeat the word that was played correctly. The data was recorded and experiment repeated this time with the volunteers eyes closed
Music was played for human that were sitting a meter away at volume 1. The music volume gradually moved up by one notch until the volunteer successful could hear the song being played. The volume was recorded and this experiment repeated with the volunteers having theirs eyes open and closed.
Humans sat 1 m while a scream was being played. The volume the scream was being played at started at the first volume with the volunteers eyes closed and then gradually went one notch up until the volunteer could hear the scream and clearly tell what it was. This was repeated and done with the volunteer’s eyes wide open.
Poems were played for humans siting a meter away who had their eyes open. The poems were played at a volume of one and were played higher and higher until the poem was heard by the humans. This was repeated and done with eyes closed.
Humans held their hands in a beaker of ice while on a computer a word was being played. The volume of the word started at the lowest volume and moved up to higher volume slowly until the word was heard and correctly reported back. This was repeated and done with the hands lying on the cushion of the chair beneath them.
M&M’s were sucked on by humans as they were trying to hear a word being played. The word was first played at the lowest possible volume and then was played at higher volumes until it could be heard and reported back. This was done again and then repeated with nothing in the humans mouth.
Fire balls were sucked on by various people trying to hear a sound. This sound was played at the smallest volume and then got louder on notch at a time until it was able to be heard and repeated back. This experiment was done again and also without the fireballs in the mouth of the volunteers
Humans were forced to breathe in and out vinegar using their nose while trying to hear a word being played. The word was played at the first volume and then played on notch at a time higher to until it was able to be heard. These experiments happened again and were repeated without smelling vinegar.

Figure 2: A graph showing what a volume the word was heard when the eyes were open and when the eyes were closed
People hear better when the eyes are closed compared to when the eyes are open. This is because of the way the human brain is able to focus. When a person’s eyes are open the eyes wander. This is a habit that everybody does. The eyes were wandering and looking at different things is distracting so not all of the persons attention is on listening to the word being played. However when the eyes are closed people rely on hearing and not sight. The eyes are not wandering and there are no distractions. This allows the human brain to focus more on the word being said and hear it quicker.

Figure 3: A graph showing what volume people head the music with eyes open and closed
The human ears hear music the same with the eyes open and the eyes closed. The data turned out like this because the volunteer was very familiar with the songs being played. While someone was simply stating a word people could hear it at a very low volume but they could not exactly make out the word being played. While on the other hand with music the second the volunteer heard the tune the words being sung could be recognized. Because of this focus did not matter which meant that it was heard at the same volume each time. So over all as soon as the tune was heard even a little the words being sung could be heard.

Figure 4: what volume the scream was heard wiht eyes open and closed
While the volunteer was hearing a scream with eyes open and eyes closed the volume the scream was able to be heard did not change. A scream is a very recognizable sound. It is loud with a quite high pitch. People’s ears can easily hear the sound at a low volume because of its high pitch and the fact that everyone knows that a scream is a bad sign. Because of the pitch and how it is easily recognized makes it so it does not matter whether the eyes are open or not because either way humans learn to recognize its pitch and sense of urgency as soon as it is able to be heard. If the eyes are open or closed.

Figure 5: what volume a poem was head with eyes open and eyes closed.
Peoples ear hear poems better while the persons eyes are closed. This is because of how close to speech poetry is. There is only a bit of a difference in the flow of it being read. Because that difference is only slight the data is somewhat the same as with the data for speech. When the eyes are open they are wandering and the persons focus is not completely on what they are hearing. When a person is listening with the eyes closed they manly rely on hearing to find out what is going on. Their attention is also directly on what is being said which make what poetry is being recited easier to be heard.

Figure 6: What volume a word was heard with a hand in a beaker of ice and hands sitting on a cushioned chair.
People here things worse if one hand is place in a beaker of ice. This is because ice makes it hard to focus and distracts the brain from listening to the word being played. The cold ice can sting humans hand if held there for too long. The slight pain of the hand in the ice was distracting so focusing on the word being said was harder than before. However when the hand was sitting on a room temperature chair there was no stinging or distractions. This is why the word was heard more easily when the hands were not in freezing ice.

Figure 7: what volume a word while sucking on a M&M and having nothing in the mouth
Things are heard slightly better but not that much better when not sucking on a M&M. This is because hearing and the sense of taste do not correlate. The M&M’s were slightly distracting but only by 2 volumes. This shows that the M&M’s only distracted the people from there hearing a tiny amount and that the sense of taste from a weak taste does not affect hearing much.
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Figure 8: Volume a word was heard while sucking on a fire ball and having nothing in the mouth.
Words are heard at the about same volume with a fire ball in the mouth and without anything in the mouth. This is because even with a strong taste in the mouth a person’s hearing is not altered by a taste. As mentioned before the taste can occasionally be a distraction but in this case the data was not altered. There is no correlation between taste and hearing no matter what is being tasted.

Figure 9: what volume a word was heard while smelling vinegar and not smelling anything
If something is being smelled or not affects the hearing of a person. This is because smelling something as strong as vinegar can be very distracting. Vinegars strong smell when breathed in and out can sting a bit. This makes it very distracting. If humans are distracted the humans are not focusing their attention completely on what they are trying to listen to. This is what makes the data like it turned out.


In these experiment is was found that the human ears can hear things at a lower volume when eyes are closed. This is important to know because now people will know if they are having trouble hearing something they will hear it better while the eyes are closed and they are not smelling anything strong of touching something cold. This data is not surprising because of how the senses distract humans and make ears picking up sounds harder. In the future scientist might want to go more in depth with the sense and maybe test different things people are touching, smells and tastes.

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Light, Douglas.The senses. Pliladelphia: Chelsea house publishers, 2005. Print.

Think Quest, "Your sense of hearing." Think quest. Web. 18 Feb 2013.