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pallen123's avatar

When you listen how does the brain process?

Asked by pallen123 (1507 points ) December 12th, 2012

When your listen do sounds going into the right ear get processed by the left brain and vice versa?

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8 Answers

hearkat's avatar

Welcome to Fluther!

Yes, much of the ‘wiring’ for the ears crosses the corpus callosum; so the sounds to the right ear are sent to the left brain, where the centers for language are located… thus, most humans have a right-ear dominance for language processing.

There has been a lot of new research in neuroscience and auditory processing disorders as a result of brain injury (stroke, trauma, tumors, etc.) and as a learning disability since I went through graduate school over 20 years ago. I haven’t worked with a pediatric population in a long time, so I am not an expert in that field. For more information, do a web search for “auditory nervous system” and “auditory processing disorders”.

lifeflame's avatar

Interesting. Never thought that my preference for using my right ear for my mobile phone might be related to language processing. I thought it was (and it could also well be) a right hand dominance/the fact that my left ear is more sensitive to volume.

hearkat's avatar

@lifeflame- Very often, people use their non-dominant hand for the phone, so they can write with the dominant hand.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

It depends. As @hearkat mentioned, the language processing regions are exclusively in the left cerebral hemisphere. Much like faces are processed separately to other visual impulses, language is processed separately to other auditory impulses.

However spoken language has more information in it than just the semantics, grammar and the concepts being communicated. Language comes with associated perceptions, even if it is an unintelligible language. These perceptions, such as emotion, state of mind etc. are processed in very distributed regions throughout the brain. This makes it difficult to say that “sounds are processed here”. Other sounds, such as music, ambient noise etc. are understood with even less certainty.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Everything physically located on the right side or our body is controlled by the left portion of the Primary Motor Cortex and vice versa with the left side of our body.

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FireMadeFlesh's avatar

@_Whitetigress That is not strictly true. Even the optic chiasm sens some fibres ipsilaterally. For example.

I just finished my Masters in Neuroscience last month, so do have some experience in this field.

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